An Acquittal In Cyclist's Death

August 26, 2009|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury acquitted the first of a half-dozen defendants to be tried in the death of a 14-year-old boy who was shot to death last year while riding his bicycle in Brooklyn as part of an alleged payback conspiracy.

Lawrence Lewis, 47, said he was in the van with the killer and rode along while the crime was committed, but he didn't know what was happening and therefore wasn't culpable.

"I was stuck, they was my ride," he testified last week. The jury acquitted him Friday.

Police and prosecutors contend that the Nov. 18 killing of Steven Graham, an eighth-grader at Masonville Cove Community Academy in Brooklyn, was retribution by adults, including Lewis, who were robbed by a band of young people at a Brooklyn home earlier in the day. The robbers took $2 and a crack pipe from Lewis, who said he wasn't angered by the incident, but simply "glad to get away" unharmed.

He's now expected to become a witness for the prosecution, according to the Baltimore state's attorney's office, testifying against his co-defendants. Four other men, ages 35 to at least 47, and a 53-year-old woman, who last week pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit assault, were also charged in the killing. Graham was shot once as he rode his bike past a fire station and died that night.

Lewis' lawyer, Paul M. Polansky, said prosecutors and police used "cosmically bad judgment," charging the wrong people and relying on an unreliable witness. But Assistant State's Attorney Josh Felsen said Lewis was a liar who changed his story to police and on the stand. Lewis originally denied knowledge of the shooting but then admitted to having been there.

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