For the second time in a week, prosecutors announced they would be seeking the death penalty in a Clark County homicide.
On Thursday, 30-year-old Aaron Lewis and his attorneys were notified of the change in his case, which stems from a May 2011 home invasion on Redwing Drive.
Lewis, of Lexington, is facing murder and first-degree burglary charges from the May 23, 2011 shooting death of Philip Howard Jr. inside his home.
Clark Circuit Judge William Clouse also reserved the entire month of April 2013 for Lewis’ trial, which will begin on April 1.
In Kentucky, prosecutors are allowed to seek the death penalty if a homicide occurred during the commission of another violent crime such as first-degree arson, first-degree robbery, first-degree rape and murder. If convicted of capital murder, prosecutors can pursue additional sentences including life without the possibility of parole for 25 years, life without the possibility of parole and death. A Kentucky prisoner has not been executed since 2008.
A week ago, prosecutors gave notice to murder suspects Percy Hargrove III and his ex-girlfriend Sheena Tipton that they would be facing the death penalty as well for the December 2011 shooting death of Andrew David Ingram. A trial date for their case may be set during a September hearing.
According to police, Lewis was the only survivor from the incident at Howard’s home at 296 Redwing Drive. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots at 1:08 a.m. and seeing a man running through the neighborhood with a rifle. When officers arrived, they found Howard and 24-year-old Demontez Cowherd inside the home, each suffering from gunshot wounds. While Cowherd was not conscious, Howard told police that he was in bed when men forced their way into his home and began shooting. Howard said he returned fire, and was shot as well. Howard said he only saw one person inside his home.
Both men were found on the second floor of Howard’s duplex. Cowherd never regained consciousness and died at University of Kentucky Medical Center from two gunshot wounds.
Howard died at Clark Regional Medical Center with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Less than 20 minutes after the shooting, Lewis was dropped off at the emergency room of St. Joseph Hospital East in Lexington with a gunshot wound. The hospital’s surveillance video recorded that he was in a dark colored Dodge Magnum, which neighbors reported fleeing the neighborhood shortly after the shots were fired.
He denied being in Winchester or knowing Cowherd, but police said they found Cowherd’s phone number in Lewis’ phone and that it had accessed cell towers in Winchester minutes before the shooting.
Contact Fred Petke at firstname.lastname@example.org.