Arron Michael Lewis was born in 1981 on a colder than average Tuesday in Ruston, Louisiana.
He was the only child of Ivan and Marjorie Lewis, a couple who had been married for less than two years at the time of his birth. They divorced seven years later.
In January of this year, Lewis described his early life to clinical psychologist Dr. Melissa Dannacher during a seven-hour mental evaluation ordered by the Pulaski County Circuit Court.
Behavioral problems began at an early age, he said. Lewis described an unstable childhood and said he had difficulties concentrating and was disrespectful to teachers. He was a truant and said he often ran away from home.
His father declined to comment.
At 16, Lewis eventually received his high school diploma, he said.
And soon thereafter, he was in prison for the first time.
Lewis was arrested and accused of robbing a Louisiana bank in March 1998, says Pam Laborde, communications director for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections’ Corrections Services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
He was 17 when he began his first prison sentence, she notes.
Paroled in October 2002, Lewis transferred his Louisiana supervision to the state of Utah, says Brooke Adams, public information officer for the Utah Department of Corrections.
“He was what we call a compact-in parolee,” she says. “The state of Utah took over his supervision.”
Lewis was discharged from that state’s supervision in October 2003, transferring his parole to Kansas, Laborde says.
But although the 22-year-old had left the state, his criminal activities had not.
On Nov. 24, 2003, a warrant was issued for his arrest in Provo, Utah. Lewis was charged with burglary, a third-degree felony. Judge Anthony Schofield of the Fourth Judicial District Court of Utah County set a cash-only bail at $5,000.
The felony warrant is still active, the court said.
AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL
Lewis avoided prison for a few months, but it wasn’t the Utah charge that sent him behind bars a second time.
He was charged and convicted of interstate commerce of a stolen vehicle in 2004, and according to the Federal of Bureau of Prisons spokesman Edmond Ross, Lewis began his sentence in a federal prison in Lawrence, Colorado, in June of that year.
“He had a lot of administrative ins and outs,” Ross explains while looking over Lewis’ federal record. “It looks like he was in and out a bit before being released from our system on March 12, 2010.”
Ross says Lewis was moved across the country to the United States Penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas, in October 2007 before being released for good conduct in May 2008.
“Being moved from one place to another, that’s not unusual,” he says.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 200,000 prisoners, or about 10 percent of the total American prison population. It offers education and work programs, as well as medical and mental health care to inmates, Ross says.
“Sometimes, individuals are moved due to disciplinary problems or to participate in programs offered at another facility, so they move from one state to another while in custody,” he says.
After his 2008 release, Lewis was back in federal custody in May 2009 after violating the terms of his parole after he was convicted of aggravated flight from an officer and deactivating an anti-theft device. He was housed in a medium-security federal correctional institute in Terre Haute, Indiana, Ross says.
Lewis was finally discharged to a halfway house in February 2010 and released fully on March 12, 2010, he adds.
Soon after his release, Lewis has said, he moved to Arkansas.
A NATURAL STATE
Lewis moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2010. There, he married the mother of his second child and found himself in legal trouble again.
An arrest warrant was issued for Lewis for theft of property in February 2011, a Class C felony. By January, he found himself headed for divorce and in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Correction with three additional felony convictions.
He was sentenced to 72 months in prison but was eligible for parole after serving a fraction of his sentence.
But this is not uncommon, says John Felts, chairman of the Arkansas Parole Board.
Prisoners are sentenced to a determined amount of time and required to serve at least one-third, less good time, he says.
“Good time classification is for Class 1 or 2 inmates,” Felts says. “Class 1 receives 30 days of good time behavior for every 30 days served. Class 2 receives 20 for every 30. Arron Lewis would have had to have been in Class 1 or 2 for us to have even considered him for parole.”
Some state inmates could end up spending only a sixth of their sentence, he says.
Despite Lewis’ extensive criminal record, his crimes outside the state, including the active felony warrant in Utah, did not disqualify him from release, Felts says.
“The statute which governs the authority of the board did not allow us to deny his release,” he says. “The statute is driven by the crime, not the inmate, and it does not take into consideration crimes committed outside of the state.”
Felts explains that at the time of Lewis’ release, only 15 crimes, including first-degree murder and rape, were considered discretionary offenses, meaning the Parole Board had the authority to deny parole to inmates serving sentences for these crimes.
Felts says that even if Lewis had a history of these crimes, the board could not deny his parole unless he was still under supervision for them.
“As for the warrant, had there been a detainer in his file saying Utah was willing to come to Arkansas to collect Mr. Lewis for the crime, we couldn’t take it into consideration,” he says. “We never saw the warrant.”
Lewis was released on parole after serving only 18 months.
“We get frustrated, too, to be honest,” Felts says. “Certainly, individuals who commit crimes from one state to another do create problems, and with the way that our system is set up, there is nothing that the statute allows to give us more authority to deny that parole.
“We are stuck with what we have.”
Lewis violated his Arkansas parole in September 2014.
Lewis was arrested Sept. 29, 2014, and charged with possession of a firearm by certain persons and the kidnapping of local real estate agent Beverly Carter.
The following day, her body was found, bound with duct tape, in a shallow grave behind the Argos Concrete Co., a business that once employed Lewis.
Prosecutors amended the charges to include capital murder.
Once arrested, the then-33-year-old appeared unfazed by the charges and readily admitted to kidnapping Carter. He is being held without bond and denies killing her.
Since his arrest, background investigators have had more than just his criminal record to consider. Lewis was an avid user of social media, some of which was used to discuss his crimes.
He admitted to being a seven-time felon on his Facebook page, and before his Northwest Arkansas arrest in 2011, he published videos on YouTube explaining how to disable anti-theft devices using magnets.
“You can get any piece of metal. … I’m going to show you exactly what kind of magnets they have to be and how big they have to be,” he said, showing viewers how to purchase, build and use his tools of the trade.
Some of his videos have over 160,000 views.
Lewis married Crystal Lowery on April 20, 2014, but social media suggests it was far from a happy marriage.
Facebook posts detailed the ups and downs of the relationship, which seemed to go from happy to miserable within hours.
Lewis was registered on dating websites and asked women to give their phone numbers through Instagram, sparking more than one virtual battle for his affection.
On Oct. 17, 2014, Lowery filed for divorce. Two weeks later, she, too, would be arrested and charged in the murder and kidnapping of Carter, and she has since pleaded guilty to the crimes.
In his 34 years, Lewis has spent a third of his life behind bars and is likely to spend the remainder in an Arkansas prison.
And that’s exactly where the Carter family wants him if he is convicted.
On March 4, 2015, the prosecution announced it would not seek the death penalty for Lewis and Lowery, at the request of Carter’s family.
His trial is expected to begin in January 2016.
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