Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Brevard death penalty trial about to wrap


VIERA -- Defense attorneys said they expect to wrap up testimony Thursday in the James Darrell Lewis death penalty trial.

Lewis, 37, was already serving two life sentences for a November 1999 slaying when he pleaded guilty last year to first-degree murder and robbery in connection with the April 14, 1999, beating death of Donald Kirby, a man whom he lived near in a homeless camp in Rockledge.

Prosecutors contend Lewis -- convicted in 2003 for the robbery and beating death of an elderly man for drug money -- deserves to die for the killing, but Lewis’ lawyers say Lewis was mentally incapacitated at the time of Kirby's killing.

He has since found religion and sought closure by confessing to the killing, they said.

At the conclusion of testimony, 12 jurors must decide whether to recommend a death or life sentence for Lewis. Circuit Judge Lisa Davidson will give the recommendation great weight before issuing a final ruling.

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