A jury this afternoon found cop-killer John "Jordan" Lewis guilty of first-degree murder in the Oct. 31, 2007 slaying of Officer Chuck Cassidy after two and a half hours of deliberations.
Just after 4:15 p.m., the jury of eight women and four men, stood one after the other and told Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart that they agreed with the verdict. Tomorrow the jury will begin the penalty phase, during which they will decide if Lewis, 23, who pleaded guilty last week to a general count of murder and six robberies, should be sentenced to life in prison with out parole or death.
The verdict followed stirring closing arguments from defense attorney Michael Coard and Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron.
Coard, Lewis' lead defense attorney, told the jury of eight women and four men that 99 percent of the prosecution's case was designed to draw on their sympathy for the dead officer and had nothing to do with the trial's central question: did Lewis, 23, commit first or second degree murder when he fatally shot Cassidy during the doughnut shop robbery.
He asserted that Lewis had committed second-degree murder because in the "one to two seconds" that it took for him to turn and shoot Cassidy he could not have acted in a premeditated, deliberate and willful fashion, as first-degree murder calls for.
"That's what it comes down to. You've got to have all that stuff within that time period," he asserted. He suggested that the slaying at the front door of a West Oak Lane Dunkin' Donuts was "a horrific and criminal, panicky reaction at the end of a robbery."
Cameron, in his closing, cited the bullet fragments that ripped into the officer's forehead and brain, and the 9 mm Hi-Point handgun from which Lewis fired them.
"This is not 'CSI' or 'Law & Order,'" he said, displaying the murder weapon. "A person is dead. Somebody took this gun and fired it at a person."
Cameron told the jury that the intent to kill can be formed in a fraction of a second, much like swatting a bug at a picnic. And while Lewis did not say he intended to kill Cassidy, 54, the jurors could infer that he meant to kill by his actions of turning around, taking two steps forward and aiming his gun at the officer's head from three feet way, Cameron said.
"Actions speak louder than words," he boomed. "His actions tell you about the cold, calculating person that is sitting here."
Lewis pleaded guilty last week to a general murder count and six armed robbery counts.