Jus­tices wonʼt re­think ap­peal in mur­der case

Re­al­tor’s killer serv­ing life

El Dorado News-Times - - Opinion - By John Moritz Arkansas DemocratGazette

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thurs­day de­clined to take a se­cond look at its de­ci­sion to up­hold the cap­i­tal mur­der con­vic­tion of Ar­ron Michael Lewis, who is serv­ing a life term for killing Re­al­tor Beverly Carter.

Lewis has sought to have his 2016 con­vic­tion over­turned by ar­gu­ing that po­lice il­le­gally ob­tained ev­i­dence from his car and cell­phone as they de­vel­oped him as a sus­pect in Carter’s 2014 dis­ap­pear­ance.

The ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing a voice record­ing of the victim, was used at his trial last year. In June, the high court ruled that most of the ev­i­dence was fit to be pre­sented to the jury.

Lewis’ at­tor­ney asked for an­other hear­ing, ar­gu­ing that the jus­tices had erred by lean­ing on a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court de­ci­sion for their ra­tio­nale.

The state court’s ma­jor­ity, with­out is­su­ing an opin­ion, said no.

The lone dis­senter was Jus­tice Josephine Hart, who in June con­curred with the out­come de­cided by the ma­jor­ity, while writ­ing that it was “un­wise” to rely on a fed­eral prece­dent.

The case cited by her fel­low jus­tices — United States v. Patane — dealt with phys­i­cal ev­i­dence ob­tained based on what a sus­pect said be­fore he was read his full Miranda rights. Hart ar­gued the cases were dis­sim­i­lar — not­ing that Lewis was read his rights mul­ti­ple times.

In her dis­sent Thurs­day, Hart wrote that the Arkansas Supreme Court should not rely on de­ci­sions from other courts, even the U.S. Supreme Court, when in­ter­pret­ing the state’s con­sti­tu­tion.

The court’s rul­ing com­pletes Lewis’ di­rect ap­peal of his con­vic­tion and life sen­tence.

At­tor­neys from Arkansas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Les­lie Rut­ledge’s of­fice had fought to up­hold the lower court’s con­vic­tion and were against a re­hear­ing.

A spokesman for Rut­ledge said in June that the at­tor­ney gen­eral would be­gin ap­ply­ing the prece­dent from the Patane case.

Carter dis­ap­peared af­ter driv­ing to Scott to show a home to a client, later iden­ti­fied by po­lice as Lewis. Her body was dis­cov­ered bound in duct tape and buried be­hind a con­crete plant where Lewis once worked.

Po­lice searched Lewis’ car and took his cell­phone af­ter he got into a wreck while be­ing fol­lowed as a sus­pect.

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