12-Year Old Drughouse Murder Case Goes To Trial

By Scott Sarvay
By Jeff Neumeyer

November 29, 2011 Updated Nov 29, 2011 at 7:26 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - "It was like a horror movie".

At the trial of Roderick Lewis on Tuesday, that was how a Fort Wayne police officer described the crime scene where two teenagers were shot to death in the summer of 1999.

The case centers on Fort Wayne's drug trade, and the defense lawyer hopes the jury will cut Lewis some slack, as he claims it was never Lewis' intention that anyone would die.

Lewis faces two counts of felony murder and two counts of robbery.

Lewis admitted to police he joined two other men in a scheme to steal drugs and money from 16-year old Richard Rogers and 14-year old Sidney Wilson, who were running a drughouse at Smith and Oxford Streets in June 1999.

Lewis maintains he, Christopher Hale, and Kajuanta Mays went to the house, on the pretense of hanging out, talking, and smoking crack.

But prosecutors told jurors in opening statements, that at some point Hale went upstairs to use the bathroom, then came down a few minutes later, reeling off a series of shots that killed Sidney Wilson.

Prosecutors went on to say that Rogers was later shot multiple times in the head, because, “He couldn’t live, he knew too much.”

The group allegedly took about $1,000 in cash and some cocaine from the home, which they later split up.

When defense lawyer Jeff Raff addressed jurors in opening statements, he tried to separate his client from the killings, saying “Lewis went over there to steal from dope dealers, and take the poison they peddle to other people.”

Raff went on to say that Hale and Mays had a different agenda that his client didn’t know about.

Raff emphasized, "The killings were not a natural consequence of what Roderick Lewis thought was going to happen."

Lewis gave statements to police on two different occasions about his role in the crimes.

Hale and Mays have never been charged in the case.

Even if Lewis did not kill anyone, he can still be found guilty of felony murder.

In Indiana, in a robbery that results in a death, the law treats all the suspects the same, regardless of who pulls the trigger.

An interesting sidenote in this trial; one of the jurors worked as a deputy prosecutor locally at the time these slayings occurred.

Neither side excluded the potential juror from serving during the process of selecting the 12-member panel.

He was not assigned the case back in 1999, but he's assigned to it now from a different perspective.

The trial is scheduled to run through Thursday.

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