State rests in case against ex-firefighter accused in killing

Joe Carr

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The prosecution has wrapped its case against ex-firefighter Joe Carr, accused of killing girlfriend Veronica Navarro in the summer of 2011.

Meanwhile, the defense is expected to begin presenting its case in the trial Tuesday morning.

A convenience store worker testified on Monday morning that a seemingly drunk Carr joined her and friends on July 6 at an event after she recognized him there. She says she spotted Carr as one of the firemen who had previously gone into her store.

She told the jury that she later went home with Carr, taking note that his home looked as though a woman had decorated it.

A Canadian Border Patrol agent from the Emerson-Manitoba port of entry also testified Monday, telling jurors that Carr raised a red flag when he claimed $2,000 in cash but had no backup sources of funds — such as credit or debit cards. Carr also reportedly presented his driver’s license and a birth certificate, but no passport.

The agent on the witness stand said Carr was planning on spending four weeks in Canada. Suspicious Carr was headed into the country to work illegally, the agent decided to pull him over for an additional search.

The agent noticed the inside of the car was dirty and disheveled — finding a cooler, camping materials, part of a tent and a laptop. An additional search of the trunk revealed a pair of license plates.

The agent returned to speak with Carr, asking where he worked. Carr told the agent he worked as a firefighter — though the agent told the jury he was suspicious whether that was true.

Ultimately, the agent managed to get a hold of the Pedernales Fire Department to verify Carr’s employment, but the agent’s research turned up another red flag in the data system. Carr popped up as a homicide suspect, and that’s when his entry to Canada was denied.

The agent told the jury that he couldn’t arrest Carr because there was no warrant out for his arrest; he was merely a suspect. In addition, the agent testified Monday that a check of Carr’s computer — for which Carr had given him the password — turned up nothing of consequence.

Turned away at the Canadian border, Carr headed back to enter the United States — where a U.S. Customs entry supervisor from North Dakota testified he stopped Carr’s blue KIA and searched both it and Carr for weapons.

While authorities found nothing inside the car, they took Carr to Pembina County Jail in North Dakota.

The chief of the jail took the stand Monday, describing to jurors jail procedures and outlining the processes for recorded phone calls. Travis County authorities reportedly instructed the North Dakota jail to record Carr’s jail conversations, which they played during Monday’s testimony.

One of the phone calls included a call to Carr’s mother, which is when he asked for her help in getting him out  — particularly in finding a bail bondsman.

His mother asked him if he had done anything wrong, to which he responded, “No.”

In another question, she asked if he had hurt Veronica. He avoided that and any other questions regarding Navarro.

In-Depth: More about Carr’s dealings at the border

On Thursday, Det. Sylvia Leal, the lead investigator in the case for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, testified Carr tried to drive into Canada but was denied entry. She says customs officials secured Carr’s vehicle, a blue KIA Rio, until Travis County authorities could arrive in North Dakota.

In court, prosecutors showed pictures of the interior of the car. Investigators found clothes, backpacks, and a cooler inside.

After returning to Texas, crime scene investigators say they served a second search warrant at Carr’s Spicewood home.

There, they say they discovered a storage room that only opens to the outside. In that room, they found a tent bag that matches the brand of the tent Navarro’s body was found inside. Prosecutors presented evidence to show the product number on the tent bag matched the tent.

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