Former coworkers testify in Joe Carr's murder trial



Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

Posted on February 5, 2014 at 7:15 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 5 at 7:30 PM

AUSTIN -- A former Pedernales firefighter is on trial for his girlfriend's murder. On Wednesday, some of his fellow firefighters took the stand. They described Joe Carr as a hard worker, but said during that week in 2011, something wasn't right.

Carr is accused of killing Veronica Navarro. In July 2011, workers repairing a dock on Lake Travis found her body just a few feet offshore, wrapped in a tent and weighed down by a paint can.

Carr sat expressionless in a black suit as his former coworkers took the stand one after another.

“He’s usually pretty energetic, gung-ho, ready to do stuff around the station," said Pedernales Fire Battalion Chief Bruce Perkins.

It's a much different reaction from Navarro's family, who cried as Assistant District Attorney Amy Meredith laid out the evidence in Navarro's death, including graphic images of her body from the crime scene.

Family members sat in the courtroom and listened to Carr's coworkers tell jurors he listened to music and read his Bible in between calls at the Pedernales fire station.

“Joe's usually upbeat and personal. If you joke with him, he’ll joke back,” said Lt. Jared Mikeska.

They said on June 28, 2011, Carr didn’t act like himself. 

“Joe had walked into the station and laid down, sat in one of our recliners and put his hand over his head,” Mikeska said.

Prosecutors used a calendar to show jurors the time line as each witness recounts what happened.

Perkins said Carr left early that day, claiming he didn’t feel well.

“I asked Joe, I was like, ‘Can you hold out until we get somebody else to come in, or is it that bad you need to go home?’ He said, ‘No, I need to leave,’” Perkins said.

Then, on July 1, he didn’t show up to work at all, and no one could get a hold of him. Perkins said he found a “time-off” request Carr had written just days before but had never been approved.

On July 4, Carr came back to work.

“We met in the lieutenant's office, and I explained to Joe that’s not the way we conduct business. If he wants to be off, he needs to talk to me, fill out the PTO request and get my approval, then send it to the assistant chief,” Perkins said.

Carr told Perkins he broke up with his girlfriend and worried she would tear up their house, so he stayed home that day.

On July 6, investigators found Navarro dead in Lake Travis.

Some of the firefighters who testified also responded to the call when Navarro's body was found.    

During opening statements, prosecutors told the jury a love triangle might have been the motive for the murder. The defense said there's no proof of prior injury to Navarro's body and they would not be able to prove Carr actually killed her.