Jason Carter Murder Trial

Jason Carter appears emotional hearing audio recorded of him by police shortly after he found his mother Shirley Carter dead. Jason Carter, a rural Marion County man accused of killing his mother Shirley Carter in 2015. The trial is taking place in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (POOL, Kyle Ocker/Daily Iowegian)

COUNCIL BLUFFS — While it’s not certain whether Jason Carter will testify in his first-degree murder trial, the jury heard his voice for a second time Tuesday.

The first time was during his 911 call. But Tuesday, his lawyers played portions of audio recorded from the microphone of Iowa State Patrol Trooper Jon Thorup.

On June 19, 2015, the day Shirley Carter was found dead by Jason Carter, Thorup was assigned to stay with the family as a liaison between them and investigators but also to help preserve the crime scene.

Jason Carter had a visible tear on his face as he listened to the audio recording.

As Thorup spoke to Jason Carter that day, he seemed emotional and at times was wailing and was hard to understand.

“Why the hell would they shoot her dead,” Jason Carter could be heard wondering aloud on the audio tape. Later he wondered aloud, “What the hell did he shoot her with?”

Bill Carter Jr., Shirley Carter’s son and Jason Carter’s older brother, arrived on the scene later in the tape.

“Did she die fast?” Bill Carter Jr. was heard saying, shortly after he arrived on scene.

“It was somebody that knew her,” Bill Carter Jr. speculated on tape. “It was somebody that knew her. They wouldn’t have shot her in the middle of daylight, an old lady.”

Just more than five minutes later came a question:

“I wonder if they shot her with that .270 [caliber rifle] I got ya,” Bill Carter Jr. could be heard asking.

The defense has been attempting to show Jason Carter was not the first individual to mention the gun as a potential murder weapon.

After finding his mother Shirley Carter on the kitchen floor, his first call was to his sister, Jana Lain.

Lain, who lives near Plano, was shopping at Walmart in Centerville and missed Jason Carter’s call as she was checking out. But she phoned him back within a minute, she testified Tuesday.

"He said, 'I come in, and she's laying here on the floor,'” Lain recalled. “I said, 'Jason, have you called 911?' and he said, 'No. It's too late. She's cold. She's stiff. She's dead.'"

Lain said Jason Carter indicated he would not call 911, so she did herself. But, being she was in Centerville, she was in touch with an Appanoose County dispatcher. In the panic of the moment, Lain said she could not recall her mom’s address. So, the dispatcher told her to call Jason Carter back and instruct him again to call 911.

Instead, Lain said she called her father, Bill Carter. He was close and made the call.

Through earlier testimony, however, it is known by the time Bill Carter called 911 Jason Carter, in fact, had informed authorities who were already en route.

After authorities released the home back to the family, Lain and Jason Carter went through the home together.

At the time, a remark she attributed to Jason Carter didn’t raise red flags. He stood at the back doorway to the home, gestured as though he was holding a long rifle, and said, “Whoever shot mom was standing right here, like this, when they shot her,” she recalled.

Later, Jason Carter told her he didn’t know his parents had a gun safe. She knew it was him who purchased it.

“It was a Christmas gift for my mom and dad,” Lain said.

Once Shirley Carter’s body was transported to the funeral home, the family went to see here.

There, Jason Carter was seen by Lain as embracing his mother.

“Jason laid over my mom's body,” Lain testified. “Completely laid over her body and said, 'Mom, this wasn’t supposed to happen.'"

Lain’s testimony concluded Tuesday afternoon for now. The defense team may recall her later in the trial.

Laurie Goff, a paramedic from Melcher-Dallas, testified about her arrival on the scene. She said she was rushed, as it was a crime scene. A deputy on scene instructed her and her team to ensure nothing could be done to save Shirley Carter and then leave the residence.

She testified that blood droplets were dry and the pool of blood under Shirley Carter was beginning to try on the edges. Her skin color was pale.

Goff said while she wasn’t trained in forensics, signs pointed to Shirley Carter having been dead at least an hour by the time paramedics arrived on scene that day.

Curt Seddon, assistant fire chief for Melcher-Dallas and also a state fire marshal inspector, testified as he was the first individual besides family to the scene on June 19, 2015.

Mike Halverson, a criminalist at the Division of Criminal Investigation state crime lab, began testimony Tuesday before the evening recess.

He walked the jury through photos of the crime scene, with Jason Carter looking straight forward and away from the screen when photos of his mother’s body were displayed.

Testimony is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Daily Iowegian and can be reached at kocker@dailyiowegian.com or by calling (641) 856-6336. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker

Kyle Ocker has been the editor of the Knoxville Journal Express since November 2016. He formerly held the titles of sports editor and associate editor at the Centerville Daily Iowegian, a sister paper to the Journal Express.

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