Murder suspect Aaron Lewis was supposed to enter a guilty plea Thursday, according to the court docket, but instead he remains scheduled to face a jury April 1 in Clark Circuit Court for a home invasion that turned deadly.
Lewis, 30, has been incarcerated for nearly two years on murder and first-degree burglary charges for the May 2011 shooting on Redwing Drive. The resident of the home, Philip Howard Jr., and another gunman, 24-year-old Demontez Cowherd, were killed during the shootout.
Thursday afternoon, Clark Circuit Judge William Clouse confirmed the April 1 trial date and scheduled a status hearing for Feb. 20, which could include a discussion of the death penalty. After court adjourned, prosecutors would not comment on the possibility of any plea agreements.
Clouse had previously reserved the entire month of April for the trial.
Police were called to Howard’s residence at 296 Redwing Drive shortly after 1 a.m. on May 23, after neighbors reported hearing gunshots and seeing a man running through the neighborhood. When officers reached the scene, Howard and Cowherd were found inside the home. Both had been shot. Howard told police that he was in bed when he heard someone force their way into his home and start shooting. Howard said he returned fire, but that he saw only one person inside his home.
Cowherd was unconscious at the scene. He later died at the University of Kentucky Medical Center from two gunshot wounds. Howard died at Clark Regional Medical Center from a single gunshot wound.
Lewis was arrested three days later, following his release from St. Joseph Hospital East in Lexington after being treated for a gunshot wound to his neck. Video from the hospital showed someone in a Dodge Magnum stop in the ambulance entrance about 20 minutes after the shooting. Police said the video showed someone enter the emergency room and take a wheelchair before returning with a black man in the chair.
The car, which neighbors reported seeing leaving the neighborhood, was registered to Cowherd’s girlfriend.
Lewis denied being in Winchester or knowing Cowherd, but police found Cowherd’s number in Lewis’ cellphone and that Lewis’ phone had used cell towers around Winchester minutes before the shooting occurred.
Contact Fred Petke at email@example.com.