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Lewis jury returns deadlocked

January 17, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Jurors told Washington County Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Beachley that they were deadlocked Friday after deliberating for four hours in the case of a man charged with robbing Michaels craft store in April 2002 with a toy gun.

Three hours into their deliberations, the four-man and eight-woman jury asked the judge to again read instructions on what evidence should be weighed in considering a verdict in the case of Robin E. Lewis. Lewis is charged with armed robbery, robbery, theft of more than $500, first- and second-degree assault, false imprisonment and reckless endangerment in connection with the robbery of more than $5,000 from Michaels in Hagerstown.

Lewis, 36, of Smithsburg, allegedly turned up in the attic of his former roommate, Aaron Smith, in May 2002 and later was charged with stealing Smith's sport utility vehicle. In late July, Lewis was apprehended in Rehoboth Beach, Del., where authorities alleged he had assumed Smith's identity.

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In closing arguments, Lewis' attorney, Washington County Assistant Public Defender Eric Reed, argued that only a physical description of the robber matched Lewis. He showed jurors a photo of the former roommates and said it's possible Smith, whose Notre Dame baseball cap was found behind the store, committed the robbery.

"No one's asking you today to provide your best guess because if all you have is a guess then you have to find (Lewis) not guilty," he said.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil said police investigating the robbery were confident Lewis, who worked at the store for more than a year, was responsible for the crime.

"This was done by somebody who knew this place and that can only be Robin Lewis," he said.

Reed said police should have collected fingerprints from doorknobs, duct tape, money bags found behind the store and items found in Lewis' car. He said a hair taken from Smith's baseball cap, which he purported Lewis took, should have been tested to see whose it was.

Veil said police did their job by compiling witness descriptions of the robber, whom he said disguised his voice while robbing a clerk. He said phone records that confirmed Smith's claim that Lewis had called him asking for a ride from the highway behind Michael's supported his point.

Veil said the state's attorney's office will decide whether to re-try the case. He said Lewis will remain at Washington County Detention Center pending another trial.

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