Monday, February 15, 2010

Man charged in twin's death settles with Ohio city

A man cleared of killing his identical twin brother after police admitted they made a mistake analyzing a bloody palm print reached a tentative $950,000 settlement with the city Wednesday over the error that led to his arrest and trial. Police, who have yet to arrest anyone else in the 2008 slaying, also told Derris Lewis they were sorry for what happened. "I want to apologize to Mr. Lewis and his family," City Safety Service Director Mitch Brown said Wednesday. "Today's settlement is a clear acknowledgment that a mistake was made."

City Council must still approve the settlement in a vote not expected for several weeks. Attorneys for Lewis say the money will be invested to allow him to earn $1.2 million over several years. Lewis, 20, is now an Ohio State University student and has opted to start receiving payments after he graduates. "There's definitely a void because my brother's not here with me," Lewis said at a news conference. "He's here with me in his spirit," he said. "I will still carry on, that's what we promised each other, to succeed and help our mother, so that's what I'm going to continue to do in honor of him."

Lewis' twin brother, Dennis, was killed during a January 2008 robbery at their mother's home. Prosecutors dropped an aggravated murder charge against Derris Lewis last year after a test failed to find his blood on a palm print that had been a main piece of evidence at his mistrial. Prosecutors proposed testing the palm print for blood after police crime scene investigators gave conflicting evidence at Lewis' trial over the location of the print and whether it was near a smear of blood.

The case 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.

The defense identified potential suspects during Derris Lewis' trial this year. Police have investigated other suspects but say they don't have enough evidence to charge anyone.

The twins' mother told police several masked men entered her house, put a gun to her head, demanded money and asked her who else was in the house. Prosecutors had alleged that Dennis Lewis died in a fight with his brother, possibly over money Dennis was saving for a car. Police said they believed Derris acted alone but didn't say why they believe he killed his brother. The defense says Derris Lewis was sleeping in his apartment miles from the slaying.

Both brothers, high school seniors at the time, were active in sports, band and theater. Friends, family and teachers described them as best friends, like peas in a pod. Derris gave interviews shortly after his brother's death saying he forgave Dennis' killer.

Original report here

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