- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Attorneys for a man charged with capital murder and kidnapping in the death of a central Arkansas real estate agent submitted written arguments Monday to keep his statements and other evidence from being presented at trial.

Attorney Bill James’ brief asks Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Herbert Wright to suppress Arron Lewis’ statements to investigators because he asked for an attorney when he was being transferred from Little Rock Police to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office.

Lewis is charged with kidnapping and capital murder in the Sept. 25, 2014, disappearance of Beverly Carter, who had told her husband she was going to show a house to a client. Her body was later found in a shallow grave at a cement company where Lewis was once employed.

“There is no dispute that Defendant invoked his right to counsel while in custody and prior to interrogation by (sheriff’s officers),” James wrote in the brief, adding that the statements were made as a result of deception because Lewis was assured he would not be recorded.

Prosecutors argued in their own brief filed Monday that Lewis contradicted himself when testifying at a hearing last week over when and how he asked for attorney. Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Johnson wrote in the filing that Lewis mentioned an attorney when an officer asked if he needed medical attention.

“The defendant’s statement (to investigators) is still admissible because the defendant’s statement regarding an attorney, under the circumstance in which it was made, was ambiguous and equivocal,” Johnson wrote.

He also argued that if Wright agreed to suppress the statements, he should allow a voice recording of Carter telling her husband to pay a ransom and not go to the police to be submitted at trial because Lewis played it for investigators voluntarily.

James also asks the judge to bar the state from introducing evidence obtained from searches of Lewis’ Jacksonville home and his car because he argues the search warrants were overly broad.

He also argues that testimony from Lewis’ estranged wife, Crystal Lowery, should be barred or very limited because of spousal privilege. Lowery pleaded guilty to kidnapping and a reduced charge of first-degree murder in July, in exchange for her testimony and cooperation in the case against Lewis.

Prosecutors said the search warrants were sufficiently specific given evidence linking Lewis and Lowery to Carter’s disappearance. Investigators linked messages and phone calls from a person Carter was supposed to meet at the house to a phone number registered to Lowery. Lewis and his car also matched a witness description of a car and man seen at the house where Carter’s car was found.

Johnson argued that Lewis forfeited at least a portion of his spousal rights when he sent letters to Lowery telling her what to say to police and during trial.

Wright said he planned to rule in early December on whether to allow the statements, evidence and testimony at trial.

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