KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Both sides have rested their cases in a hearing over whether to overturn a civil judgment in the wrongful death case against Jason Carter – who is accused of killing his mother in 2015.
Carter was found civilly liable for the death of 68-year-old Shirley Carter, who was found shot to death at her Lacona home in June of 2015. The lawsuit was brought by Jason’s father, Bill Carter, after he became dissatisfied that authorities had not charged his son criminally in Shirley’s death.
Just a few days after the civil judgment was reached, Jason Carter was arrested and charged with first degree murder in the case. Prosecutors say information uncovered during the civil trial allowed them to file the murder charge.
Hearings began Monday on a motion by Jason Carter to overturn the $10 million civil judgment. His lawyers claim that if some of the information they have now was available during the civil trial, the outcome of the trial would be different.
During the final day of the hearing Wednesday, Jason Carter’s attorneys entered a photo from December of 2003 into evidence that shows Jason assembling a gun case. They say that is how Jason’s fingerprints made it onto the case. During the civil trial, the presence of his fingerprints on the case was used against Jason.
Jason Carter’s attorneys say that is the only piece of forensic evidence against him and the photo from 2003 explains why his fingerprints were found on the item. Jurors in the civil trial never got to see the photo and were not informed about it.
"We now have evidence of the origin of the fingerprints," said Christine Branstad, one of Jason Carter's attorneys. "That was not available at trial."
But one of the attorneys representing Bill Carter countered that argument by saying that the photograph is not what is relevant about the fingerprint evidence.
"What's relevant about the fingerprint evidence is that when he (Jason) was asked by law enforcement, is there any reason why your fingerprints should be on that gun safe? Did you ever touch that gun safe? He lied and said No," said attorney Mark Weinhardt.
The lawyers in the case have two weeks to submit their briefs to the judge. The judge then has 60 days to issue a written ruling on the case.
Jason Carter’s murder trial has not yet been scheduled but will be held outside of Marion County due to pre-trial publicity.