Iowa widower speaks at trial of son accused in wife’s death


March 15th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — The father of an Iowa man accused of fatally shooting his mother in 2015 for financial gain testified that his life was forever changed the moment his daughter called to say his wife of five decades had been found dead on the kitchen floor. Bill Carter, 73, said Thursday that he immediately rushed home and kissed the forehead of his wife, Shirley Carter, who had been shot twice with a rifle, The Des Moines Register reported. The two met at high school and had married when he was 17 and she was 16. “They say your life can change in an instance — and it did,” Carter tearfully told the Pottawattamie County Courthouse. “It changed, and it’ll never be the same.”

The couple’s 46-year-old son, Jason Carter of Knoxville, is charged with first-degree murder in the June 19, 2015, shooting at their Marion County farm. Marion County Attorney Ed Bull said in his opening statement at the court in Council Bluffs that Jason Carter was struggling financially and killed his mother so he could work more closely with his father on the farm. His attorney, Christine Branstad, said the defendant was in a better financial position than initially thought. She said investigators failed to follow up on significant pieces of evidence that pointed to another suspect. Bill Carter’s testimony helped establish a timeline in the killing.

He said he learned of his wife’s death through the phone call from his daughter, who told him Jason Carter had discovered the body in the kitchen but hadn’t yet called 911. When he arrived home, Bill Carter said, his wife’s blood was still pooled and wet, and the hogs were still eating, indicating she had recently fed them. Carter said his son initially suggested his mother died during a violent robbery. But investigators found many valuables untouched, which prosecutors said indicated it wasn’t a burglary.

In 2016, Bill Carter filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his son. The following year, a jury held Jason Carter responsible for the shooting death and ordered him to pay $10 million in damages to her estate.