Convicted Killer Set Free Over Legal Error

( – A convicted murderer was released from prison in Rochester, New York, due to a legal error committed before his trial. Terrence Lewis was convicted of second-degree murder in 2018 for killing 29-year-old Johnny Washington in a drive-by shooting. Before his trial, however, he was moved to and from various correctional facilities, which meant the indictment against him had to be dismissed.

Lewis was serving time in Pennsylvania prison in 2017 on a federal drug conviction when he was indicted for Washington’s murder. In 2018, he was moved from Pennsylvania to Monroe County Jail in New York to await his appearance in Monroe County Court. Before the trial got underway, officials moved him back to Pennsylvania, where he stayed for two months before returning to New York.

A New York Supreme Court judge subsequently ruled that the transfers were unlawful and breached the federal Interstate Agreement on Detainer’s (IAD) law. That law states that a prisoner must be held in the jurisdiction where charges were filed while awaiting trial, and if this does not happen, the indictment must be thrown out.

On its website, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said when Lewis returned to New York for his trial, a jury convicted him of the murder, but “unfortunately, any deviation from the IAD Law is subject to strict consequences.” Sheriff Todd K. Baxter apologized for the outcome and said it was unfair and violated “the principles of justice.”

The Sheriff’s office stated that it would take steps to prevent such a situation from recurring, conduct a review of its transfer procedures and policies, and provide more specialized training to officers.

Terrence Lewis was due to spend at least 22 years in prison, and some attorneys worry that his release will place a star trial witness in potentially imminent danger. Kyle Steinebach, a former Monroe County prosecutor who helped convict Lewis, said, “Now, that person’s life is in jeopardy, in my opinion.”

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