Mayor Coleman Orders City To Enter Into Settlement Talks With Teen Once Accused of Murdering Twin
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman says he wants the city to try to reach a settlement with Derris Lewis. Lewis is the Columbus teenager once accused of killing his twin brother before the charges were dropped. WOSU reports some of his family hopes the teen will never have to work again.
"I would like a personal apology. But we will go further, you know."
That was 19-year-old Derris Lewis last month at a news conference just one day after he was set free from jail. Lewis had been locked up for almost a-year-and-a-half. He was accused of murdering his brother, Dennis, in 2008. After his trial ended in a mistrial, investigators discovered the key piece of evidence linking Lewis to the crime, a bloody palm print, was not a bloody palm print after all. Lewis was freed and all charges including aggravated murder were dropped.
Mayor Michael Coleman came close to an apology. He said in a written statement "My heart goes out to Derris Lewis and the entire Lewis family for the anguish and trauma they have experienced over the past 18 months." The mayor also called for reforms to "ensure the mistakes that were made in this case are not made again."
Coleman has directed the city's public safety director and attorney to engage in settlement talks with Lewis's attorneys.
Adam Nemann is Lewis's attorney. In a written statement, Nemann welcomed negotiations. He noted if an agreement can not be reached, his client will pursue a lawsuit.
Derris Lewis declined to speak about a possible settlement but his cousin, Robert Lewis said the family appreciates Mayor Coleman's statement.
"It was like hell. It was like torture, what we all went through," Robert Lewis said.
Regarding a possible settlement, Robert said no amount of money can compensate Derris for the time he spent behind bars or negate the torment the entire family endured as a result.
"There's nothing you can do to pay a person back for a false accusation of something, you know, never existed," Robert Lewis said.
Although Derris plans to attend Ohio State University, Robert said he hopes his cousin never has to work again.
"I believe he should get whatever is coming to him, based on the character that he has. He's a great kid, he's a excellent kid. And I feel like he should never, from the day he came out of prison, should never have to even think about working a job another day in his life," he said.
In a statement Columbus Police said the mistake was not malicious or purposeful. It blames a breakdown in communication during the investigation. Police say formalized procedures have been set into place to prevent mistakes.