Prosecutor wants convicted teen in prison

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 08:45:22-05

A judge is willing to let a convicted murderer take a big step towards freedom, but he's doing so over the objections of the Ingham County Prosecutor.

Convicted murderer Charles Lewis, Jr was in court on Tuesday talking about his future. At 19-years-old he's hoping for a second chance, the same age as his victim Shayla Johnson.

"People talk about closure, but I don't know--If you've had a loved one ripped from your lives by an act of violence and you'll never have them again--if there's such a thing as closure," said Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart J. Dunnings III.

Lewis was 13-years-old when he joined his father and several others, taking Johnson from her home and shooting her in a gang-related robbery attempt.

Even though Lewis didn't pull the trigger, his involvement and his record are enough for Dunnings, who says the teen should spend his life in prison.

"When it comes to actually harming people, then to me they've gone beyond. We have to talk for victims. We have to stand up for victims," Dunnings explained.

With Lewis headed to a transitional home where he can earn more freedom, possibly getting a job and taking college classes, Dunnings says it's a future Johnson's family was robbed of.

"Knowing that one of the individuals that was responsible may have the future that your loved one would be denied, that's very difficult." he added.

Freedom isn't being handed to Lewis.

"He's got a lot of steps to show me that society will be safe if he's allowed back into society," said Judge George Economy with the Ingham County Family Court.

Every three months Judge Economy checks in with Lewis. He listens to testimony from the teen's caseworkers, making sure Lewis is showing enough progress and meeting the requirements laid out by the court.

"Let us see how he does and we have time to look," Judge Economy said. "If it turns out that he should go to prison, we can always put him in prison."

Lewis will have another check-in with Judge Economy to see if he's meeting the requirements to earn more freedom, before he moves into the transitional home in a month or two.

The judge has to decide if Lewis will be released or sent to prison by the time he turns 21. It's a decision Judge Economy says will be based on reports from Lewis' caseworkers about the teen's time in the juvenile system.

"I have to depend on that. Is it 100 percent fail safe? No, nothing ever is," Judge Economy added.

That's a chance Dunnings isn't willing to take.

"The only certainty we have he'll not re-offend is to put him into prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole," Dunnings said.