The June 2 episode of the A&E series Accused: Guilty or Innocent? is the second of a two-part finale special exploring the case of a man accused of killing his mother. The show’s premise is to explore a case from the perspective of the accused, including their defense, trial and how their family is coping with the situation. The show has explored complex cases, such as the May 12 episode about Angel Bumpass.
This episode looks at the arrest of Jason Carter, who was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his mother Shirley Carter. Shirley was shot twice in her home on June 19, 2015, in rural Marion County, Iowa. Jason was accused of committing the crime not only by the authorities but also by his father, his sister and his brother.
Where is Jason Carter today?
Jason Was Found Not Guilty of the June 19, 2015, Murder of His Mother Shirley
The criminal trial took place in Pottawattamie County after being moved from Marion County to avoid the pre-trial publicity. After a trial that lasted almost three weeks, the jury found Jason not guilty on March 21, 2019. The verdict was an emotional one and Jason hugged his attorneys and tearfully kissed his wife Shelly immediately after being acquitted. Afterward, he had a message for law enforcement: “Bring the people who did this to justice,” he said. “Do your job.”
Through their attorneys, Jason and Shelly emailed Heavy a statement that thanked A&E for allowing Jason a voice during the process. They said: “We appreciate the sensitivity A & E showed in covering our life over many months. We are grateful for the accurate depiction of this process. We are happy to be back to family and farming without cameras.”
Although Jason is back home and lives less than a mile from his father, he is still estranged from his family.
Jason Was Found Responsible for Shirley’s Death in Civil Court & He Is Appealing the Verdict
Jason actually had a civil trial before the criminal trial portrayed in the A&E episode. On January 5, 2016, Jason’s father Bill and his two siblings filed a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court against Jason, accusing him of killing Shirley. On December 15, 2017, a jury in Marion County found Jason responsible for her death and ordered him to pay $10 million to her estate. It was only a couple of days after this verdict that Jason was arrested and charged with her murder.
Since being found not guilty in the criminal trial, Jason and his legal team have appealed the civil judgment. In February 2020, a Marion County judge ruled that the verdict would stand and that the criminal trial result doesn’t invalidate the civil trial verdict. Jason is still represented by Christine Branstad, Nathan Olson and Alison Kanne for the appeals and post-judgment motions. His legal team told Heavy that despite the February 2020 ruling, they are continuing to challenge the judgment and are going through a process of appeals and motions to remand.
Jason Carter Has Filed a Lawsuit Against the Iowa Authorities, Including Agent Ludwick, for ‘Failure to Investigate’ His Mother’s Death
Jason has also filed his own action seeking damages based on the investigation into his mother’s death, Heavy has learned. His legal team filed the petition on March 23, 2020, which says that they have “continued to receive additional exculpatory evidence, evidence showing law enforcement’s failure to reasonably investigate this homicide.” The lawsuit focuses primarily on the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Special Agent Mark Ludwick.
The Marion County Tribune obtained the petition, which reads: “Before even arriving on the homicide scene, Agent Ludwick was focused on Jason Carter.” The petition also accuses Ludwick of ignoring information leading to other suspects, failing to interview potential witnesses, and directing other officers to ignore evidence. The petition also says Ludwick removed an officer from the investigation who disagreed with how it was handled.
Lynn Hicks, the communications director for the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa, told Heavy: “We deny any wrongdoing on the part of Agent Ludwick and we have moved to dismiss the federal lawsuit in its entirety.” Special Agent Ludwick remains with the Iowa DCI, where he has worked for over 22 years. The DCI told Heavy: “The DCI does not comment on any specific person(s) who may or may not be part of an investigation.”
The petition also makes reference to two suspects identified by witnesses in the investigation, who were in the Marion County jail for some time after the murder. Jason’s attorneys indicate in the petition that the jail phone calls were not reviewed: “Agent Ludwick became aware from (a witness) that (one of the suspects referred to above) allegedly confessed to the homicide over a specific jail phone call. Nothing indicates that even this jail call was requested, obtained, and/or preserved.”
None of the allegations made in the petition against Special Agent Ludwick and law enforcement have been confirmed. Heavy reached out to Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholdt and Marion County Attorney Ed Bull and was informed by both that they could not provide more information on the case due to the pending litigation.