Evidence delays lead to plea dealPublished 9:09pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Superior Court was halted Monday as the judge ordered the prosecution to check on lab results that had been two years in coming.
The lab test results requested from the State Bureau of Investigation were part of the state’s case against Joseph Lamont Lewis, of Washington. Lewis was charged in October of 2011 with several counts of possession with intent to sell marijuana within 1,000 feet of a park — in this case the Tommy Stewart Memorial Courts and PCM Skatepark off East Seventh Street — and maintaining a dwelling to facilitate the sale of drugs. He was also charged with habitual felon.
According to Assistant District Attorney Matthew Rice, a confidential informant working with the Washington Police Department captured Lewis making two separate drug sales on both video and audio. As the lab results on evidence had not been returned, Lewis’ trial had been continued several times, however, after he failed to show up for his last court date in April, a judge issued an order for his arrest. With a secured bond set at $75,000, Lewis has been incarcerated since.
In Monday’s proceedings, Lewis, through his attorney, Matthew Lilly, initially declined a plea arrangement with the state that reduced the charges against him to two counts of possession with intent to sell marijuana within 1,000 feet of a park, dropping the habitual felon charge altogether. At the same time, Lilly requested his client’s bond be reduced, as Lewis had been jailed for seven months and claimed it was a missed communication that put him there.
“The case has been dragging on so long, people tend to move and don’t always let the lawyers know their change of address,” Lilly said. “They might not get something in the mail sent from the courts.”
Superior Court Judge Cy A. Grant declined to reduce Lewis’ bond, adding that Lewis had no means of support and would likely begin selling drugs again. Instead, Grant ordered Rice to call the SBI and check on the status of the lab results.
“I want them (the prosecution) to call somebody today, this afternoon,” Grant said.
According to Rice, a rush request had been placed on the evidence in order to have it returned by this week’s Superior Court trial session. After making the call to the SBI lab, Rice informed the court the evidence had been processed and would be released shortly, which lead Lilly to confer with his client as to whether he wished to reconsider the plea arrangement.
Lewis pleaded guilty to the two counts of selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of a park.
“They’ve dropped the habitual felon charge. That’s not going to happen again,” Grant told the defendant. “If you come back out and commit another felony, you’re going to get 10 to 12 years.”
Grant sentenced Lewis to 30 to 45 months for each charge — sentences that will run consecutively.