MARION COUNTY, Iowa -- A civil lawsuit has led to murder charges against a Marion County man.
On Friday, in a civil suit filed by Bill Carter, a jury ruled his son, Jason Carter, was responsible for killing his own mother. In less than 72 hours, Jason's status changed from the 9-1-1 caller who reported the murder, to the son a civil court jury deemed responsible for his mother's death, to a suspect criminally charged with murder.
DCI Special Agent in Charge Mike Motsinger says his team followed Carter's civil trial the past two weeks. Bill Carter and son Billy Carter brought the trial after becoming frustrated that Jason had never been charged in Shirley's death in 2015. Investigators followed who said what and determined Jason's answers weren't always consistent. They now believe they have the evidence to bring charges for what happened in the Carters' Lacona home.
"We have a lot of information we had prior to the civil trial. The civil trial just added a couple pieces that we may not have normally gotten through our criminal investigation, obviously through depositions and trial testimony, it was just able to help out a little bit," said Motsinger.
Hours later, in Des Moines, Jason Carter's attorney Steve Wandro alleges what happened during the civil trial was unfair.
"I'm telling you that the law enforcement authorities and the plaintiffs were working hand in glove, not with us," he said.
Wandro believes law enforcement worked too closely with Bill Carter instead of letting the criminal investigation finish before any potential civil trial, which is usually the case.
"That's not what we expected at the beginning of that case. We had every reason to believe it would be Bill Carter and what evidence he saw with his eyes, his ears, and whatever he found. Now we find out that we just tried a mini-DCI case...unfair," he said.
Either way, it's a family torn. Shirley is dead, and her husband and son will head to court again to argue over which one killed her.
What does this mean for what happens next? Jason Carter had his first appearance in court on Monday and is jailed on a $1 million cash bond. His attorney plans to appeal the civil judgement that said Carter should pay $10 million to his late mother's estate, and they plan to ask for a change of venue in the criminal trial. Wandro does not think Jason could get a fair trail because of all the publicity in Marion County.