Visiting judge’s dismissal of case ‘unlawful,’ DA says
The commonwealth’s charge of unlawful possession of a firearm against Jeffrey Stuart Lewis, 28, of Philadelphia, was dismissed by visiting Judge J. Michael Williamson due to a lack of evidence during a jury trial in Lycoming County Court on Wednesday.
The ruling was based on the corpus delicti rule, which states evidence a crime actually was committed first must be established before the defendant’s testimony can be used, according to Lycoming County Law Clerk Stacy Bower.
However, according to District Attorney Eric Linhardt, the case must be completed before the court may make this determination.
“Unfortunately, in this case, Judge Williamson dismissed the charges against Mr. Lewis only one hour into the presentation of our case, before the commonwealth was able to present all of its evidence and witnesses,” Linhardt said. “The jury was never permitted to hear the complete presentation of our case against Mr. Lewis.”
“I believe what Judge Williamson did was unlawful,” Linhardt said. “Unfortunately, because the judge ordered the dismissal, there is no remedy for the commonwealth. The law does not permit us to appeal.”
As the result of a previous robbery charge in 2007, the law prohibits Lewis from possessing a firearm while still on parole. He currently is charged with possessing a firearm without a license and possessing a firearm while on parole. When questioned by the police, Lewis confessed to holding the gun he said was not his, according to a police affidavit.
During the trial, Assistant District Attorney Aaron Biichle placed the officer who received the confession from Lewis on the witness stand, but before the officer could give his testimony Williamson asked for additional evidence, and upon receiving none, dismissed the case.
Lewis was charged with allegedly stealing a car belonging to his cousin’s friend. On Sept. 9, 2014, Dallas Dunston stepped out of the car, which he owned, and Lewis and his friend sped away in it. Dunston called the police, who pulled the car over in the 2300 block of West Fourth Street, according to the affidavit.
A Walther PPX 9mm pistol was found in the glove box, and after running the serial number, the police found it had been reported stolen on Jan 26, 2014.
Lewis denied that the pistol was his but did admit to officers that he handled the gun, according to the affidavit.