The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

November 2, 2013

Man acquitted of raping 3 preteen girls

MERCER COUNTY — A Tennessee man accused of raping three girls in central Mercer County last week was found not guilty by a jury of 18 charges.

Michael D. Lewis, 41, of Nashville, initially was charged with nearly 400 counts. The charges were winnowed to 19 before the four-day trial. Prosecutors withdrew a charge of aggravated indecent assault during the trial, and the jury cleared him Oct. 25 of charges that included rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and corruption of minors.

“He was absolutely very elated,” defense attorney Blair H. Hindman, Brookville, said of Lewis. “He can’t get back the 14 months he spent in jail awaiting trial.”

District Attorney Robert G. Kochems said his office was confident in its case at the outset of the trial.

“The jury believed it did what was right and I accept the jury in reaching its verdict fulfilled its role in the criminal justice system,” he said. “We would not have tried the case, with its DNA evidence, if we believed the jury would have returned not guilty verdicts.”

Hindman said the alleged victims’ testimonies were “blatantly different” from what they had told state police.

Lewis took the stand in his own defense.

“He was one of the best defendants I’ve ever seen,” Hindman said of Lewis’ testimony. “He came off as absolutely credible.”

The assaults were said to have occurred in 2009 through 2011 in Jackson Township, near where Lewis used to live, when the girls were 9, 10 and 12.

State police filed charges April 30, 2012, and Lewis was extradited from Tennessee the following month.

Lewis turned down a plea offer of one count of rape, which would have carried a 10-year mandatory prison term. Had he been convicted, many of the charges included mandatory minimum prison terms, which a judge could have stacked one after the other.

While Lewis was in jail, his wife ran his computer recycling business, Hindman said. Lewis has returned to Tennessee to resume his work in the business, Hindman said.

The trial had an unusual side element in that a prospective juror, Khella J. Barfield, was arrested for failing to show up for jury selection or a contempt hearing. She was found to be in contempt by Judge Thomas R. Dobson and spent the better part of a day in jail as punishment.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 3rd Earth Fest draws families to Penn State

    Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents.
    Families poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ third annual sustainability celebration.

    April 22, 2014

  • Amish clean Shenango River Volunteers protect Shenango River

    Shenango River Watchers has spent more than a decade working to clean up the Shenango and improve recreational access to its water and banks.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • For many, recycling’s become way of life

    When Pennsylvania mandated curbside recycling for its larger municipalities in 1998 – those with more than 5,000 people – there was grumbling about government interference in the lives of everyday people.

    April 22, 2014

  • Many items can’t be thrown away

    The computer screen in front of you isn’t likely to do you much harm, at least not until it’s tossed in a landfill where the lead-filled components start to leak and eventually find their way into your drinking water, according to Jerry Zona, director of the Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling/Solid Waste department.

    April 22, 2014

  • David Sykes' solar panels Earthworks

    While touring Germany last year, David Sykes spotted solar panels resting in a residential back yard.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burned using Icy Hot, woman claims

    A Grove City woman has sued Chattem Inc. and Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc., alleging she suffered a second-degree chemical burn using one of Chattem’s Icy Hot pain relief products.

    April 21, 2014

  • Family outing Family friendly

    “We’re No. 5’’ isn’t a sports cheer you’ll hear any time soon.
    But considering the lumps the greater area has gotten over the years on economic rankings, it’s an outright victory.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • To demolish or not Tear it down? Fix it up?

    In 2007, Richard D. Givens bought a home at 831 Knobwood Drive in Hermitage for $245,000.
    Today, the city of Hermitage is seeking the demolition of the now-vacant house, arguing the damage from water infiltration makes the structure not worth saving.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from April 19, 2014

    April 19, 2014

  • Man admits having child porn

    A Mercer man accused of soliciting and downloading photographs of nude teenage girls pleaded guilty April 8 to sexual abuse of children for possessing child pornography.

    April 19, 2014

  • Police getting new tool to fight crime

    Sharon police working at crime scenes will be putting a powerful new investigative tool to work as soon as next month.

    April 19, 2014

  • Soap box derby finds new home

    The Greater Pennsylvania Super Kids soap box derby for special-needs kids is moving to Sharpsville.

    April 19, 2014

  • News briefs from April 18, 2014

    ‘Nonspecific threat’ prompts evacuation

    Supreme Court refuses to hear couple’s appeal

    Lung Association offering free radon test kits

    April 18, 2014

  • Man admits to choking; rape case is dropped

    A Greenville man on Thursday pleaded down a rape case to simple assault and continued to deny that he committed any sexual crimes.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge issues tabletop ads injunction against couple

    A judge recently handed down an injunction prohibiting a Sharon man, his wife and two companies associated with the wife from working in the tabletop advertising business within 100 miles of Sharon.

    April 18, 2014