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YOUNGSTOWN Man, 20, gets 10 years for slaying



Published: Sat, April 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The killing came after an argument over a cigarette lighter, authorities said.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Sebastian Lewis loves to talk about Shakespeare and has never had so much as even a traffic ticket.

By most accounts, he's not the type of person you'd expect to see going to prison for killing someone, but that's where he's headed.

Lewis, 20, of East Florida Avenue, was sentenced to a total of 10 years Friday by Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. He had pleaded guilty in February to voluntary manslaughter and a firearm specification.

He will get credit for 703 days he's been held in the county jail awaiting trial.

"I just can't imagine how he wound up in the place that he did," said defense attorney Louis DeFabio.

In May 2000, Lewis accused 39-year-old Ralph E. Moore III of taking his cigarette lighter. Moore denied it and said the lighter he had was his own. Their ensuring argument ended when Lewis pulled a gun and shot Moore.

DeFabio said until that moment, Lewis had never run afoul of the law.

"The day he came here to plead guilty he was talking to me about 'The Merchant of Venice,'" DeFabio said. "I can't ever recall having a defendant charged with a crime who was able to discuss Shakespeare."

Eloquent apologies

Before he was sentenced, Lewis apologized to Moore's family, none of whom was in the courtroom. He apologized to his own mother for "cursing her with so much pain," and to the county taxpayers for the money it's cost to incarcerate and prosecute him.

Lewis said he hopes to obtain a college degree while he's in prison and to "stand for unity" upon his release.

"But for now, all I stand for is sorrow," he said.

The judge was impressed with what he heard.

"I've been here a long time and I have never heard anyone say all those things so well," Judge Krichbaum said.

The sentence was agreed upon by DeFabio and Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Pochiro as part of a plea agreement. The original charge of murder was reduced in exchange for his plea.

Lewis pleaded innocent by reason of insanity in November 2000, but was ordered to stand trial after a mental evaluation showed he was competent.

bjackson@vindy.com




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