Bogue Chitto man opts for guilty pleas in burglaries

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 2, 2003

Facing the first of two trials on burglary and conspiracycharges, a Bogue Chitto man Thursday admitted to his role in theSeptember 1999 incidents and is awaiting sentencing next week.

About halfway through the jury selection process Thursdaymorning, Derrick Lewis, 24, decided to plead guilty to two countsof burglary and two counts of conspiracy. Attorney Dwayne Deer saidhis client reached the decision after talking with his family.

“I think it’s going to work out for the best,” Deer said.

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Sentencing was scheduled for next Friday before Judge KeithStarrett.

Lewis faces up to a total of 60 years in prison and up to$30,000 in fines. A sentencing recommendation announced Thursdaywas for a total of 10 years, with Lewis to serve the first five andthe last five on post release supervision.

The recommendation also included Lewis paying $2,392 restitutionto the county for transporting him back from California. Lewis fledLincoln County after his arraignment hearing.

“He was brought back from California in January of this year,”said Assistant District Attorney Diane Jones.

Deer was appointed to represent Lewis because one of theburglaries involved the home of Public Defender Lesa Baker and herhusband Richard. No attorney in that office would have been able torepresent him because of the conflict.

Two co-defendants in the Baker home burglary and threeco-defendants in the second burglary pleaded guilty earlier and hadcompleted their jail time but are still on probation, courtofficials said. Co-defendants in the Baker burglary, which was tobe the focus of Thursday’s trial, had been subpoenaed asprosecution witnesses.

Jones had completed questioning potential jurors and Deer wasabout to start when Lewis decided to plead guilty during a break incourt action.

Starrett accepted Lewis’ guilty plea and later informed the jurypool that the case had been settled. He said it was unfortunate thecase could not have been resolved sooner.

“We should have had this case resolved before today,” Starrettsaid.