LISBON - After apologizing for "my lack of judgment and my poor decision," Quinton Lewis was sentenced in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on Monday to serve 15 years to life in prison for fatally shooting his half-brother last December.
In a plea agreement, Lewis pleaded guilty to a singular charge of murder for the death of Marion Lewis. He requested immediate sentencing. The 15 years to life term is mandated.
However, the sentence was not the choice of Marion Lewis' mother, Pauline H. LaPaugh of Columbus. Defense attorney Richard Hura read a statement from LaPaugh prior to sentencing in which she stated she disagrees with sending Quinton Lewis away to prison.
"Something took them both to a terrible place," LaPaugh's statement said. "No type of punishment will bring my son back. Prison does not rehabilitate people."
LaPaugh, who serves as a minister for prisoners in the Columbus area, said she speaks from personal experience. She pointed out her son, Marion Lewis, had also served years in prison. Instead of seeing Quinton Lewis also go down that path, she said she would like to see him get "counseling and spiritual help."
"I could choose to be bitter, resentful and hateful," LaPaugh said. "but that is not who I am."
Quilla Lewis of Akron, Quinton Lewis' mother, also talked about leaving the whole matter up to God. She talked about being a single mother who had three sons, including one who died at age 16 from an aneurysm. She spoke of the difficulties in raising the children and the need for single mothers to reach out to others and trust others for help. She added that a sheriff's deputy once told her they could not do anything with one of her sons until he broke the law.
Quilla Lewis also talked about her conversations with LaPugh and their connection through the boys.
"As a mother, I have been involved with Marion and Quinton for a number of years," she said. "We both went through some things and we both know where our help comes from."
She quoted scripture in Psalms stating God knows everything, adding "the lord have mercy on everyone involved."
Before he was sentenced, Quinton Lewis apologized not only to Marion Lewis and the family, but also to the judge, the prosecutor's office and his attorneys, Hura and Fred Naragon, for his actions. He said he hopes someday people will be able to forgive him.
"I'm humbly and deeply apologetic," Lewis said, "and I truly want my condolences for Marion Lewis. I'm deeply and terribly ashamed of my actions."
In exchange for the guilty plea, county Prosecutor Robert Herron said his office were willing to drop the firearm specification along with additional charges of having a weapon while under a disability and tampering with evidence.
Following the hearing, Herron said he wanted to commend the Salem Police Department, the first responders and the detectives for doing a "first-rate job" in handling the shooting death. Additionally, he mentioned the work of the Bureau of Criminal Information and Investigation, highway patrol trooper Todd Jester and the important contributions of the county Homicide Task Force.
"It's that type of police work that gets convictions and pleas," Herron said. "They did a thorough job."
Quinton Lewis was charged after shooting his half-brother from behind four times in the kitchen of their uncle's home on Walnut Street in Salem on Dec. 21. The gun and Quinton Lewis' cell phone were both found in a vehicle behind the house.
Besides sentencing Lewis, Judge Scott Washam ordered the murder weapon destroyed.