KNOXVILLE, Iowa — On Monday, Marion County Judge Martha Mertz denied defendant Jason Carter’s motion to recuse herself and she also dismissed a second petition filed by Jason asking the court to set aside the ruling in the civil trial.
Plaintiff Bill Carter’s attorneys, Mark Weinhardt and David Fautsch, said they believe the defendant waited too long to bring this issue to court.
“For him to come to court now, years after the judgment, to waste an enormous amount of time, judicial resource and party resource, while he hasn’t paid a penny of the more than $10 million judgment against him, is not a persuasive case that equity is in his favor. So as a jurisdictional premise, but also as a factual premise, this second petition to vacate should be dismissed on its face,” Fautsch said during the hearing.
Jason Carter’s attorney, Christine Branstad, said they made this second petition because they believe if they had had some of the information and evidence that came out later, the civil trial verdict might have been different.
“And in this case, when Jason Carter was in front of this court the first time, he did not know about the differences of the timeline, the provable timeline, he did not know about the information that Shirley Carter’s death was likely while he was in Eddyville and he did not know about a number of items that were excluded in the investigation. And those things are relevant to his defense and would have changed the strategy overall,” Branstad said.
Branstad said she wasn’t shocked by Judge Mertz’s decisions.
“I think this is a pretty straightforward step that we needed to take. There is a different interpretation about the law. The plaintiffs had one interpretation, the defendant had another and we just need to let the courts, in this case, the appellate courts, make the decision going forward,” Branstad said.
Weinhardt said this case is long overdue getting into the appellate courts.
“We have never had a moment’s hesitation about the correctness of the verdict in this case. The correctness of the jury’s ruling that Jason killed his mother. We just want to get that result affirmed in the appellate courts and put an end to all of this litigation,” Weinhardt said.
Branstad said the return trips to court are difficult for Jason and his family.
“I think it’s always difficult for Jason to go through these steps, but he’s been handling it for a long time and certainly we’ve gone quite a ways down the road. And I think a lot of the information that has come forward has been comforting to Jason and has really helped him,” Branstad said.
Weinhardt said he thinks the court proceedings have interrupted Bill Carter’s ability to move one.
“It has been difficult for him. The cavalcade of litigation interferes I think with the grieving process and makes it difficult for him to put this behind him and move on. But his quest for justice is never going to go away,” Weinhardt said.