Arron Lewis has been found guilty of capital murder and kidnapping in the death of Realtor Beverly Carter.
The jury of 12 — three men and nine women — returned with the unanimous verdict after about an hour of deliberations. Lewis was then sentenced to life in prison without parole on the capital murder charge. He was sentenced to life on the kidnapping charge. Both sentences are to be served consecutively.
Jurors began deliberating about 3 p.m. Friday after the prosecution provided the closing statement in the case.
Carter's body was found buried in a shallow grave behind an Argos concrete plant in Cabot in September 2014, four days after she had went missing while on a trip to show a house in Scott.
The verdict was read aloud by the foreman to the court before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright about 4 p.m.
After the verdict, Beverly Carter's son Carl Carter Jr. spoke on the stand in tears as he described his mother, referencing her being a grandmother and "champion" as a young parent at 16.
Family and friends of the Carter family embraced as court adjourned, at times sobbing.
"The only thing that Beverly Carter did that day was go to work. That's all she did," he told reporters outside the courtroom. That statement has been echoed throughout the trial.
His wife, Kim Carter, who was standing next to him, said that the mission all along has been to focus on her mother-in-law and not Lewis.
"We sought out for justice, and we got it today," she said.
Defense attorney Bill James said his team did the best it could to present a case for its client.
"I feel that we got a fair trial," he said, though added his disagreements over "issues" during the trial such as "marital privilege."
Lewis has 30 days to appeal his conviction.
Before the case was handed over to the jury for deliberation, the defense also presented its case Friday. Beverly Carter's widower, Carl Carter Sr., and Lewis testified on the stand.
During his testimony Friday, Lewis was questioned on his narrative posted to Facebook of the circumstances of Beverly Carter's death. During cross-examination, Lewis was questioned by the prosecution on details he could not recall as the state sought to find flaws in Lewis' account.
Lewis was on the stand for for much of the morning. After a lunch break, his testimony continued for about 10 additional minutes. The defense then rested its case, signaling closing remarks in the trial.
Carl Carter Sr. testified Friday morning that he and his wife had marital issues in the past, though denied that their relationship was in a bad place at the time of her death.
The prosecution ended its case Thursday after two days of testimony from 19 witnesses, including Lewis' estranged wife Crystal Lowery, Carl Carter Jr. and a number of investigators.
Lowery pleaded guilty last year to first-degree murder and kidnapping for her involvement in the case. Her plea agreement stipulated that she testify against Lewis during his trial.
In Friday's closing arguments, the prosecution asserted its case that Carter's death was caused by suffocation after green duct tape was wrapped around her face. The defense asserted its view that Carter died as a result of being smothered in an alleged sexual act with Lowery.
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.