A federal judge ruled that a man convicted of murdering a Little Rock real estate agent will not be allowed to call any witnesses other than himself in his trial next week over whether he was assaulted by prison guards state in 2016.
Arron Lewis, 40, of Jacksonville, who is serving two life sentences without parole for the 2014 kidnapping and murder of Beverly Carter, has sued then-Arkansas Department of Corrections Wendy Kelly, Captain Mark Stevens, and Sergeant. Hazel Robinson at the US District Court in 2018.
Kelly and Stevens were dropped from the civil rights lawsuit earlier this month, leaving Robinson as the sole defendant.
Lewis appeared in court Friday on video from the East Arkansas (Brickis) Regional Office in Lee County.
After a pre-trial hearing before U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson, Lewis, who represents himself, was left without witnesses to confirm his claim that Robinson punched him in the left shoulder while being escorted to the hospital at Varner Supermax. Branch in June 2016. Lewis said he was seen at the hospital due to a dislocated left shoulder and was in severe pain.
The second officer is a corporal. Yarius Sanders, who helped Robinson escort Lewis to sick leave, stated in a sworn testimony on July 14, 2021 that he had not witnessed the alleged attack.
Robinson and Sanders are expected to testify in Robinson’s defense in a civil trial that begins Tuesday.
Wilson excluded 10 of Lewis’s witnesses because none of them were directly related to the case, which made their testimony inappropriate. The only witness he did not rule out was Lewis himself.
All 10 witnesses were prison staff who were investigating the complaint Lewis filed against Robinson, but other than that, they knew nothing about the incident.
“It all comes down to my testimony, which you have already considered untrustworthy, against two officers to whom I cannot provide any supporting evidence,” Lewis complained. “I believe that my entire list should be excluded, except for me.”
At the start of the hearing, Wilson reviewed a complaint filed by Lewis regarding the recent transfer from Tucker’s Maximum Security Division in Jefferson County to Brickkes. Lewis told Wilson that after the move, he found that a number of materials needed for the trial had disappeared.
“The morning I was transferred, they just came to my cell, I was going to use the phone, and they said I would go with them,” Lewis said. “They didn’t tell me they were transferring me or anything like that.”
Lewis said he was left in a visiting cell and its contents were packed for transport.
“They left a lot of things,” he said. “My address book, my hearing aid, the numerous records I had for the trial. I had all the records and records I wrote in this case, and half of them were missing. It was a subversive attempt to do what they do, instead of just telling me, “Hey, you got transferred. Collect all your things.”
Wilson noted that an internal email sent between prison officials and copied to Robinson’s lawyer Vincent France showed that photographs of Lewis’ property were taken prior to shipment. The email said that the photo was added due to Lewis’ past claims that the property had disappeared after the transfer.
France, which represents Robinson with William Byrd, stated that documentation of all transferred property had been provided and that the property had been inventoried in the presence of Lewis.
“We have attached documents from Officer Tucker who surveyed the area while Mr. Lewis was present,” France said. “He never said that something was missing.”
Lewis argued that his legal materials were not presented; France stated that this is due to the fact that these materials have not been investigated.
“If we looked through all of his legal materials, he would say that we misread his legal materials,” France said.
Satisfied with France’s explanation and the record he received of Lewis’s estate, Wilson ruled that the available evidence indicated that Lewis’s property had been transferred in full.
“They’re not hiding anything that I can identify,” Wilson said.
Lewis was sentenced to two life sentences after being convicted in January 2016 of the murder and kidnapping of people who died in September 2014 in connection with the death of Carter in September 2014, whom he lured into an empty house in Scott under the pretext of interest in buying it.
At trial, prosecutors said that Carter, a married mother of three, died in agony and horror, choking on the green ribbon that Lewis had wrapped around her face after his plans and his wife to keep her for ransom collapsed.
Lewis’ wife, Crystal Lowry, testified against Lewis in exchange for leniency. She is serving a 30-year sentence for her involvement in the murder.
Information for this article was provided by John Lynch of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.