Comment
11
Tweet
2
Print
RSS Feeds

Man sentenced to life in prison in Va. activist's death

Friday - 11/1/2013, 5:02pm  ET

harrisfamily_maxsmith_512.jpg
Members of Lenwood Harris' family were present in court for Tyrone Lewis' sentencing. (WTOP/Max Smith)

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - A man convicted of killing a northern Virginia activist and throwing his body in a Fort Washington well has been sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 120 years.

Tyrone Lewis, 28, was convicted in September of murder and other charges in the death of Lenwood Harris, a community activist in northern Virginia.

Lewis was sentenced Friday at the Prince George's County Courthouse in Upper Marlboro, Md.

About 30 of Harris' friends and relatives crowded into the courtroom. Many were wearing "One Love" wristbands in honor of Harris' charity work.

His wife spoke in court and asked for the maximum sentence.

"The pain has cut me so deep," Deborah Harris said. "I can't tell if my heart is still beating, or I just died."

Harris' wife told the court that she is struggling to pay rent on a home she can't afford. She lives there because "it's so far away from everyone," she said.

One of Harris's five siblings, Harold Harris, also gave an emotional statement.

"He just had one of these spirits that he had to fight for people," he said.

Prosecutors say Lewis and two other men seeking to get bail money for an arrested friend kidnapped Harris in September 2011 and demanded his ATM card and pin number. Authorities say Lewis shot Harris at an abandoned house and then helped dump his body down a well.

Lewis maintains that he is innocent. Speaking before the judge, he told the court that he lost his wife "for something [he] really didn't do."

"I really don't think I should get no time," he said.

But Judge Sean Wallace said there is "more than sufficient evidence" to imprison Lewis.

"The criminal justice system failed to recognize ... you are part of that small group that preys on others," Wallace said. "As a result, you got relatively light sentences [for your past convictions]."

Lewis has been charged in 19 cases since 2004 across the region. In a number of these cases, he was convicted for robbery and carjacking. He is also awaiting trial in two other murder cases.

"We are relieved that this one-person crime spree is over," said Prince George's County States Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

Harris' body was found in January 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.