Defense Attorney Argues Victim Was Initial Aggressor

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On March 22, a homicide defendant stood before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth for closing arguments in a case focused on self-defense.

Byron Erin Lewis, 41, is charged with first-degree murder, firearm use in a felony violent crime, having a handgun on his person and two counts of firearm possession with a felony conviction.

As the prosecutor gave her closing statements, she asked the jury to “consider his credibility” referring to the defendant’s constantly changing story.

She pointed out that during Lewis’s testimony, he explained that the handgun used in the shooting might have been modified as he did not expect it to go off six times. However, during his interview with Baltimore Police Department (BPD)  detectives, he never said he never suspected it was an automatic gun.

Lewis described the physical altercation with the victim and allegedly taking the gun away, pushing him off and “let[ting] his ass have it.” The prosecutor told the jury that showed Lewis’s actions were willful and premeditated. 

Defense attorney James Sweeting III explained that the prosecutor’s claims were simply a hypothesis. He said in surveillance footage, six muzzle flashes were not visible.

“Mr. Lewis is telling the truth about [the gun] going off six times on its own,” he stated, “only one bright flash occurs.”

Sweeting noted that this is not a “Who done it?” case. It was self defense, as the victim was the initial aggressor…[Lewis’] intent was to save his own life.”

The prosecutor reiterated that six shell casings were found on scene, six shots were fired and six wounds were found on the victim’s torso. With that, the prosecutor indicated that if Lewis was wrestling with the victim, he would not have been able to shoot a target. 

The jury began deliberating on March 25.

According to court documents, BPD officers responded to a report of gunshots on June 12, 2021. Upon arrival at the 2000 block of Reisterstown Road they found the victim, Shammarh Jenkins, suffering from gunshot wounds. Ultimately, the 32-year-old succumbed to his injuries.

Lewis was identified through the use of surveillance footage and information provided by witnesses.

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