Testimony in the Carter case focused on the get-a-way cars used by robbers

Testimony Thursday in the Willie Pearl Carter case focused on the get-a-way cars used by robbers. Carter was killed during a robbery at the former Peoples Bank in Lakeland. Some of Carter's family members also testified. They are suing the bank and a car rental company claiming negligence contributed to Carter's death. On the witness stand Thursday, jurors heard testimony that before the robbery, the suspects rented one of the cars used in the robbery from Dollar Rent-A Car and stole two others from the company's lot. Darryl Stripling, Dollar Rent-A-Car security chief said, "The keys were obviously in one of the vehicles an employee had mistakenly left and the other one was a customer that was approached by one of the suspects." Dollar Rent-A-Car's security chief says in that theft the suspects posed as an employee. He convinced a customer returning a car to leave the keys inside the car. On the witness stand, officials said their company purchased the facility 18 days before the bank robbery. They testified that days before the theft, Dollar's corporate construction supervisor and security chief both wrote reports critical of security on the lot A guard booth, gates and other security device were ordered but were not installed before cars were stolen. Attorney's also put Carter's granddaughter Debbie Dunlap on the stand. She went through a montage of pictures that showed Carter as the loving caring center of the family. Debbie Dunlap, Granddaughter said, "My grandmother she was content to settle for less if it meant more time for her family and I thank her for that." But the most emotional testimony came from Carter's daughter Eleanor Wilbanks. Wilbanks got separated from her mother during the robbery and she described the chaotic moments just before her mother was shot. Wilbanks said, "I got under a table and I was just petrified and then I got out from under the table and then I thought - ah where is my mother? I almost went out of the room and then I heard her call my name and then I heard a shot." Minutes later Willie Pearl Carter was dead. Carter's son Ronnie took the stand and described his mother as the sweetest, nicest, most considerate person you would ever want to meet, murdered in a bank robbery in the 78th year of her life.