Justices won’t rethink ruling
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.
State attorneys for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge 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.