Jury may give death sentence
BY KEYONNA SUMMERS
FLORIDA TODAY ADVERTISEMENT
Attorneys will begin seating a 12-member jury today to decide whether to recommend a death sentence for a convicted murderer who pleaded guilty last year to a second killing.
Police said James Darrell Lewis, 37, confessed to the April 19,1999, beating death of Donald Kirby, a homeless man whose body was discovered in a ditch alongside railroad tracks in Rockledge.
According to police, Lewis -- currently serving two back-to-back life sentences for another 1999 slaying -- struck a sleeping Kirby several times in the head with a solid metal pipe, fracturing his skull. He then dragged Kirby's lifeless body across the tracks and threw the man's identification in the woods, a police report said.
Lewis told authorities he had prior knowledge that Kirby, an acquaintance from Kentucky, had money in the wallet. There was no cash in the wallet when it was recovered, police said.
Lewis pleaded guilty in February 2006 to first-degree murderand robbery with a deadly weaponin connection with the slaying.
The death penalty trial is similar to one held following Lewis' 2003 first-degree murder and robbery conviction in the November 1999 beating death of 77-year-old Michael Proko.
Prosecutors said Lewis beat Proko with a wrench in his West Melbourne home and robbed him of $300 to buy crack cocaine.
Jurors in that case opted against the death penalty, and instead sentenced Lewis to life in prison without parole.
Contact Summers at 242-3642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.