Jurors return guilty verdict in case of accused cop killer

Elissa Rivas Image
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Harlem Lewis punishment phase
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A jury will soon decide life or death for Harlem Lewis

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Jurors have found a man guilty of capital murder in the fatal shooting of a Bellaire police officer in 2012.

It didn't take long for the verdict to be reached against Harlem Lewis, who fatally shot Corporal Jimmy Norman and business owner Terry Taylor. Police say Lewis shot and killed Corporal Norman and Taylor, who owned an auto repair shop, outside that business during a traffic stop on Christmas Eve 2012.

Lewis, 21, was also shot during the pursuit that followed, but has since recovered from his injuries.

Jurors now must decide if Lewis will receive the death penalty. The sentencing phase begins Monday.

Earlier today, prosecutors and defense attorneys made their final cases within about 30 minutes this afternoon.

Judge Mark Kent Ellis agreed to let jurors consider a murder charge in addition to the original capital murder charge. This means if Lewis is convicted on the murder charge, he could spend up to life in prison and be eligible for parole. Jurors can also send him to death row.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Patrick McCann told jurors, "The tragic circumstances of Mr. Taylor's death, we own, Harlem got up there and told you that. He also told you he didn't want to hurt the officer and the gun went off."

Harris County DA Devon Anderson countered in her closing, saying, "This is a capital murder because two men went to work and they both were murdered for absolutely no reason. It's time to convict him of capital murder."

Earlier today, Lewis testified in his own defense, spending about about an hour answering questions from his attorneys and prosecutors.

In the first set of questions, Lewis' attorneys asked him if he'd been scared the day he shot both Corporal Norman and Taylor at the end of that traffic stop.

On the stand, Lewis testified he didn't mean to shoot Norman. He said it was a struggle.

McCann asked Lewis, "As a result of the struggle with you, what happened?"

"The gun went off," said Lewis.

Prosecutor Anna Emmons questioned Lewis aggressively, asking "You executed him, didn't you?"

"Yes, ma'am, out of fear," said Lewis.

"Out of fear? You chose to do this," said Emmons.

"Yes ma'am," responded Lewis.

We spoke with McCann outside the courtroom.

"Certainly it showed, which is what we tried to show all along, and that's that he never went looking for a confrontation. It was a struggle," he said. "What happened after that, again from shock and adrenaline, is tragic."