Crime Watch

CRIME WATCH

November 16, 2006

Charged in killing, man, 80, dies in prison

An elderly Baltimore man who was charged this summer with the fatal shooting of a desk clerk at a seniors high-rise in Bolton Hill has died in prison, officials confirmed yesterday.

One of the oldest people ever charged in the city with first-degree murder, Clyde Lewis, 80, had been held without bail since his arrest June 26, the day of the shooting. He was accused of killing Thomas Batty, 66, a man with whom he apparently had a long-running dispute.

Lewis was pronounced dead Oct. 16 in the hospital ward of the Metropolitan Transition Center - the old Maryland Penitentiary, said Mark Vernarelli, a prison system spokesman. Lewis died of natural causes, Vernarelli said. Stanley Needleman, Lewis' attorney, said his client's "lungs gave out," but he said that he had received good care while jailed.

Lewis had an arraignment scheduled Tuesday.

The shooting death at Memorial Apartments on McMechen Street astonished residents. Lewis had no violent criminal record and was thought of as a kind man, who shared the tomatoes and cabbage he grew behind the apartment building.

Batty, too, was a likable person, his relatives said. He was known for zealously manning the front desk, a job he had held for four years.

Just before the shooting, Batty refused to let Lewis' granddaughter board an elevator without signing into the seniors residence. Lewis also believed that Batty was trying to have him evicted, court documents say.

Needleman said his client had had "not one bit of trouble in Bolton Hill, other than with this one person."

Lewis was from a "nice, hardworking family," Needleman said. "This is very sad for everybody involved. Everyone here is a victim."

Julie Bykowicz

Woman admits thefts

A 42-year-old Baltimore woman has been convicted of stealing $6,490 from a state agency and sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to repay the money, the attorney general's office said yesterday.

Yolanda E. Harris of Baltimore was indicted along with five other people alleged to have stolen more than $33,000 from the state Department of Business and Economic Development.

Harris pleaded guilty to her part in the scheme, in which she worked with an employee of the agency to create false invoices for services she was supposed to provide to the agency. She never provided any services, but cashed checks that the employee approved.

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