Beverly Carter Targeted Because She Was 'Woman Who Worked Alone': Suspect

Beverly Carter Targeted Because She Was 'Woman Who Worked Alone': Suspect
Beverly Carter
Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

10/01/2014 AT 03:45 PM EDT

The man accused of kidnapping and killing Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, but he now says that he wanted to plead guilty.

In court on Tuesday, Arron Lewis said he did not kill the 49-year-old woman from Scott, Arkansas. But as he left the courtroom, he told assembled reporters that he pleaded not guilty "because my lawyer told me to. I'm just sorry it all happened," he told about a dozen reporters. "I just want it all over with."

Lewis, who remains in police custody on $1 million bond, has been answering reporters' questions whenever he has been transported from one place to another. On Monday afternoon, he told reporters that he chose Carter because she was just a woman who worked alone – a rich broker.

Carter's body was found in a shallow grave at a concrete company about 25 miles from where Carter was last seen. The Associated Press reported that Lewis once worked at the concrete company.

Questions of Safety

Carter's death has shone a spotlight on the dangerous work of real estate agents, who often have to show properties to strangers. The murder has sent shockwaves among Carter's colleagues.

"They're scared, and I need someone to give them some reassurance," Brenda Rhodes, a broker at the real estate company where Carter worked, told ABC News. "I would say that 80 percent of my agents are women, but the men, they are devastated, too."

Rhodes has arranged for a police detective to speak to the brokers at Crye Leike Real Estate Services to calm their fears – and give tips for protecting themselves.

A Devastated Family

Police say that Carter's husband and sons have been crushed by the loss.

"They were obviously distressed and distraught," said Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Halladay in a press conference. "But I think they have a religious strength that a lot of people may not have."

The family spoke out on Tuesday. "We are devastated at the loss of our precious Beverly," they said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "There is now a hole in our hearts that will never be filled. Mr. Lewis robbed us of an amazing wife, loving mother and grandmother. Her grandkids will never get to know the magnitude of her greatness."

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