Ohio teen cleared of twin’s death plans to sue
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio teenager cleared of killing his identical twin said Friday that he can forgive police and prosecutors but plans to sue because he must be compensated for spending 18 months behind bars.
Prosecutors on Thursday dropped an aggravated murder charge against Derris Lewis in the January 2008 slaying of his brother, Dennis, after a test failed to find Derris Lewis’ blood on an incriminating palm print.
“I lost my freedom and my education. Those are the two most important things that I have as a citizen of these United States,” Derris Lewis said at a news conference.
“I would like a personal apology, but we will go further into what we have to do,” he said.
Lewis’ attorney, Adam Nemann, declined to discuss whether a lawsuit would be filed, but said: “I would not rule it out.”
As of early Friday afternoon, Derris Lewis said he still hadn’t gone to sleep after his release from jail 24 hours earlier. He spent his first day of freedom in more than a year visiting with friends and family, eating at Hometown Buffet restaurant, buying an iPhone and ironing his clothes and those of his mother, April.
He also visited his brother’s grave Thursday.
Derris Lewis said he forgives his brother’s killers but wants them caught and pledged to dedicate his life to catching them if the crime remains unsolved.
“I was innocent from day one. Whoever knows us personally knows this is not something Derris or Dennis would do,” he said. “We were always good kids in a bad neighborhood.”
Police said Friday that they presumed from the beginning that a palm print found at the scene was covered in blood.
The location of the print on a blood-covered wall and the print’s reaction to a crime analysis chemical made them believe the print itself was bloody, said Cmdr. Mary Mathias and Lt. Tom Fischer.
Prosecutors proposed testing the palm print for blood after police crime scene investigators gave conflicting evidence at trial over the location of the print and whether it was near a smear of blood.
Mathias said police are reviewing the case to determine whether there was miscommunication about evidence. The criminal investigation remains open.
“The immediate focus is on the fact that we still have a 17-year-old murder victim who by everyone’s account was a very fine young man,” Mathias said. “We want to determine who’s responsible for that and bring some justice to Dennis Lewis and his family.”
The defense identified potential suspects during Derris Lewis’ trial this year. Mathias said police investigated suspects other than Derris after the slaying but don’t yet have enough evidence to charge anyone.
Derris Lewis’ trial ended in a mistrial after a juror said she couldn’t continue because of an illness in her family. No alternates were available because the judge had dismissed them.