A man accused of kidnapping and murdering a real estate agent in Little Rock, Arkansas, as part of a ransom plot has been sentenced to life in prison.
Arron Lewis and his estranged wife, Crystal Lowery, were suspected of kidnapping then 50-year-old Beverly Carter in order to collect a ransom, KAIT 8 reported.
According to Beverly’s husband, Carl Carter, she sold $12 million in real estate in 2013, but as of September 2014, she had only sold $2 million, and the couple was experiencing a financial hardship, KATV reported.
Beverly went missing after telling Carl she was going to show a house.
When the ransom plot did not go as planned, prosecutors argued Beverly was killed, according to KAIT 8. Her body was found in a shallow grave at a concrete plant where Lewis once worked.
An autopsy found that Beverly died of suffocation. Duct tape had been placed on her face and hands.
Lowery pleaded guilty in 2015 to first-degree murder and kidnapping, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
She testified against Lewis at his trial.
Lewis told the court he was not present when Beverly died, KATV reported.
When asked why he would plead guilty to capital murder if he did not commit the crime, Lewis said it was to take the burden from his wife because he felt she had potential, as she was in nursing school — prior to her conviction.
He added that if there was a crime that happened within five feet of him, he was automatically guilty, and that detectives would not believe the truth. So, he told them what they wanted.
Lewis has never admitted to causing Beverly’s death and maintains it was an accident.
The story Lewis told was that he and his wife were meeting Beverly for sex and that her death occurred accidentally.
A recording found on Lewis’s phone of Beverly begging her husband to pay the ransom told a different story.
Lewis said it was “100 percent computer-generated,” according to KATV.
“I know my mom’s voice,” Beverly’s son, Carl Jr., testified to the recording, reported KATV. "That’s my mom."
Lewis was found guilty of capital murder, which gave him an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole. The jury sentenced him to life in prison for the kidnapping charge. The two sentences will be served consecutively.
The option for the death penalty was removed at the request of Beverly’s family.