Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TOP STORY >> Killer at our front door

Leader editor-in-chief

Arron Lewis stood near the front door at The Leader one evening last month, and he knocked on the big glass window when he realized the door was locked.

He said he wanted a job application, but I wouldn’t open the door for him.

He looked like someone who might have escaped from prison or who was on parole, so why let him inside?

He was a tall dark fellow who could snap at any moment and rob you for drug money or a six-pack of beer. If he ran into someone vulnerable, maybe an old man or an attractive woman, he might reach for a gun or a knife.

Even before his name was in the news for allegedly kidnapping and killing a realtor in Scott and burying her in a shallow grave in north Pulaski County, I knew Lewis could be trouble.

The man outside the front door nodded and said he’d come back tomorrow. Lewis, who lived in Gravel Ridge, did come back and picked up an application, but I didn’t see him.

He told someone here he was a felon and never brought back the application. Lewis, only recently out on parole, was busy stalking victims.

Police say a few days later, he met up with Beverly Carter, the realtor who was supposed to show him a home in Scott.

I remembered him after he was arrested the following week — one of the many parolees I’ve written about over the years who went on to commit even more serious crimes than the ones they were paroled for.

Lewis, 33, had been convicted of crimes in northwest Arkansas, Kansas City and Utah as far back as 1998. He was only 17 when he was convicted of first-degree robbery.

He was also convicted of interstate commerce of a stolen vehicle 2003, aggravated assault on an officer 2007, deactivating an anti-theft device in 2008, along with three counts of theft. He never served more than a couple of years in prison.

The first parolee I wrote about in The Leader was a serial murderer named Ledell Lee, who went on a crime spree in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He was sentenced to die for strangling Debra Reese, 26, in the Sunnyside addition in Jacksonville in 1993. He remains on death row.

Lee, who is now 48, was also convicted of raping two Jacksonville women and was tried for the murder of Christine Lewis, the daughter of the late Alderman Robert Lewis.

Lee was also suspected of killing a Jacksonville prostitute and dumping her body in a shed near the railroad tracks.

In a prison interview, he told me he was innocent. He said was framed by the Jacksonville police.

Maurice Clemmons was another parolee I wrote about back in 2004, when I spoke out against Gov. Mike Huckabee paroling him because he was supposedly rehabilitated.

Clemmons received a 35-year sentence in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was let out three months later.

In March 2001, Clemmons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. He was paroled last March 2003 but was soon wanted for aggravated robbery.

Five years later, Clemmons killed four law-enforcement officers near Tacoma, Wash, and then shot himself before police could arrest him.

Last Thursday, a Lonoke County jury found a parolee named James Michael Davis, 39, of Conway guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the double stabbing deaths of a couple at their home off Hwy. 38 on December 2011.

He received two consecutive life terms, so it’s unlikely he’ll go free again and commit more crimes.

The prosecution accused him of faking mental illness when psychologists examined him but played dominoes and basketball when he didn’t think anyone was watching him.

Davis was accused of stabbing Charles Smith and Tracey Mills at their triplex on Charles Drive off North Stagecoach Road on Hwy. 38 between Cabot and Ward. The couple had invited him to live in the third apartment next door.

Davis had a list of prior convictions but spent little time in prison. In May 2007, he was convicted in Faulkner County for manufacturing, delivering and possessing of controlled substance and sentenced to 36 months in state prison. He was also convicted in Lonoke County for fleeing.

In July 2007, Davis was convicted in Pulaski County for possession of methamphetamine and sentenced to 36 months in state prison.

But less than a year later, Davis was in trouble again: He was convicted in Lonoke County on hot check and sentenced to 12 months in state prison. In June 2008, he was convicted in Pulaski County for theft by receiving, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, fleeing and theft of property. He was sentenced to five years probation.

Then in July 2008, he was arrested again and convicted in Faulkner County for aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a felon and theft of property. He was sentenced to 60 months in state prison.

But in April 2010, Davis was back in Faulkner County court, where he was convicted of residential burglary, theft of property, forgery, possession of firearm by a felon and criminal mischief. He was sentenced to 96 months in state prison.

Davis went free the following year, and just 10 months later fatally stabbed Mills and Smith.

Another parolee with a long criminal record, Jeremy Deshaun Davis, 31, of Lonoke, is facing the death penalty in the shooting death of Hurbert Dewayne Jackson, 27, of Little Rock in January 2013.

Nicholas Ryan Holloway, 24, of Beebe is serving 35 years for his role in the shooting.

Jackson’s body was found on the side of Bevis Road off Hwy. 15 near Lonoke.

Last Saturday, our special contributor Aliya Feldman wrote about a 70-year-old Little Rock woman who last summer was raped by a parolee named Milton Thomas, 58.

A nearby church had hired him to mow the lawn outside her apartment complex, where several elderly women live alone.

The alleged rapist, who is 6 feet tall and weighs 230 pounds, had knocked on her door and asked for a cup of water. She told him to wait on the porch while she went to get the water.

“He jerked the door open and pushed me against a wall and said if (I) said anything he would hurt me,” she said.

Convicts are no longer allowed near her building.

“I don’t want a plea bargain for rape,” she said. “I want (him) in for life.”

She continued, “I just don’t want him to get out there and do this to anybody else.”

Thomas, who was previously convicted of breaking and entering, forgery and theft and other charges, has been returned to prison while he awaits trial on the rape charge.

(Next: Recidivism covered up.)