Iowa man accused of murdering mother begins his defense Monday

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - Monday begins the defense in Jason Carter's first degree murder trial. He is accused of shooting and killing his mother Shirley Carter in 2015. The prosecution rested its case on Friday after watching and listening to hours of interrogations and interviews with the defendant, Jason Carter.

Earlier in the week, Jason Carter's father Bill Carter testified for more than four hours. Bill talked about how he and Shirley were high school sweethearts and were married for more than 50 years. The jury also took a virtual tour of Bill Carter’s house and saw the kitchen where Shirley was murdered.

Bill still lives in that house.

On Friday Marion County Attorney Ed Bull called two Iowa DCI Criminalists and law enforcement to the stand. Criminalist Anna Young examined the finger prints on certain pieces of evidence in this case, including the gun safe from the Carter home that has become a centerpiece in the case.

Young said out of the 55 prints on the gun safe, 31 are Jason Carter's.

At one point during the investigation, Jason denied knowing about the safe, “I’ve never touched the gun safe. I’ve never touched the ammunition ever. I didn’t even know he had gun safe until just recently.”

Criminalist Victor Murillo talked about the bullet fragments and bullets he found at the scene and during the investigation.

The prosecutor asked Murillo, “Were you able to come to a conclusion as to how many rounds were fired in this case?” Murillo responded, “Yeah, so by looking at all of the bullet fragments, I determined that they were the result of two bullets that were fired.”

Murillo said in his findings the murder weapon could possibly be a .270 rifle, like the one that was missing from the Carter home when the guns were seized.

The jury also heard testimony from Marion County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Brian Bigaouette, who showed previous interrogation and interview videos of Jason Carter. In one of the clips, Jason talked about his finances.

“With the amount of grain I had left over, carried over to sell out, I was probably around $50,000. If I had to pay my note back that day, I would have been $50,000 short,” Jason said.

In another clip, Jason Carter became emotional as he described the moment he found his mother dead on the kitchen floor.

“I took two or three more steps inside and she was laying there. And I knelt down and I grabbed her pant leg and shook it and said, ‘Mom.’ You know, hoping she would respond somehow,” Jason said.

In both video and audio clips that were heard in court on Friday, law enforcement and attorneys asked Jason similar questions on different days and his answer wasn’t always the same.

One thing that has remained the same throughout is after he found his mom dead, he called his sister, Jana Lain, and then called 911.

“I don’t know know who killed my mom or what happened to her. I am telling you the truth on that. I’ll tell it to you, like I said, forever,” Jason said.

Jason says sometime after finding his mother and making phone calls, he then put his second cell phone, that he texted his mistress on, in the fuse box under the hood of his truck.

Bigaouette testified that he was there on the day when photos were taken under the hood of Jason’s truck to see if a cell phone and a .270 rifle, believed to be the murder weapon, would fit there.

Bull asked Bigaouette, “Did it fit?” Bigaouette responded, “Yes.” Bull followed with, “Would the hood latch?” And Bigaouette replied, “Yes.” Bull then finished with, “Would the placement of that firearm prevent the vehicle from operating as designed?” Bigaouette answered, “I don’t believe so. The vehicle wasn’t started once the hood was closed, but it appeared there was no obstruction or it didn’t obstruct the engine in any way.”

After Bigaouette was dismissed, the prosecution rested and the judge dismissed the jury.

Outside the presence of the jury, defense attorneys and state attorneys discussed emails from one of the Iowa DCI investigators on the case with Judge Brad McCall.

The defense claims information in the emails is evidence of bias against Jason Carter.

They also talked about the defense’s motion to dismiss, to which McCall replied that the court will take the emails under advisement and Bull has the opportunity to respond by Monday.

The defense also asked for a directed verdict, which McCall denied.

Court is scheduled to reconvene at 9 a.m. at the Pottawattamie County Courthouse on Monday, starting with the defense’s case.

This story filed by WHO Channel 13 Reporter Reporter Laura Barczewski.

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