On Wednesday October 30, 28-year-old Craig Reginald Lewis went on trial for the August 2012 shooting death of Frank Harris. On October 28, the defendant pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm, and possessing a firearm while committing a felony; however, he is fighting the open murder charge against him, claiming self-defense. Now, according to a news article at Mlive.com, a Muskegon County jury will decide his fate.
Prosecutors allege that Lewis “blew some of Harris’ brains out” after Harris came outside of a home where a get-together was being held in order to break up a fist-fight that Lewis and others were engaged in. Robert Hedges, Senior Assistant Muskegon County Prosecutor, said in his opening statement that Lewis became enraged at Harris, took his gun from another man who was holding it for him so that he could participate in the fight, and began shooting toward the house, one of the shots hitting the victim in the forehead. Police did not arrest Lewis for several weeks, as he fled to Detroit; the weapon used in the shooting was never found.
Others who were at the get-together say they did not witness the fatal shot, as everyone began scattering after hearing the first gunshot. However, in a previous hearing several men who were present at the residence claimed to have seen Lewis fire the first shot, which struck the kitchen door. The weapon was a .357 Magnum handgun according to news reports.
Lewis is being represented by Belinda Barbier and Fred Lesica, both public defenders. While self-defense was not mentioned in opening statements, Hedges did tell the jurors that he expects the defense lawyers will claim that the victim fired at Lewis first. Harris’ fiancée testified that she was inside the house with Harris when they both heard the first shot. She said that Harris went out to the kitchen, and after hearing additional gunfire and a “thump,” she crawled to the kitchen after calling out his name and getting no reply, then found him lying in a pool of blood.
Michigan criminal defense attorneys are unfortunately very familiar with these types of cases. While there is no mention of what was going on at the “get together,” chances are drugs and alcohol were involved. Lewis is charged with open murder, which means jurors will decide on first- or second-degree murder should they find the defendant guilty.
The penalties for murder in Michigan are extremely harsh; if convicted of first-degree murder, Lewis will likely face life behind bars. Any individual who is arrested or charged with a homicide offense such as murder or involuntary/voluntary manslaughter must have a capable and aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer in his or her corner.