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Criminal defense rests in Upper Marlboro murder trial

The fate of Tyrone Lewis is now in the hands of a Prince George County jury. Lewis is charged with the murder of Lenny Harris, a community activist from Alexandria, Virginia. Harris' body was discovered in January, 2012, at the bottom of a well in Ft. Washington. The trial concluded with both the prosecution and the criminal defense presenting their closing arguments.

A second person, Linwood Johnson, has already pled guilty for his role in the carjacking and killing. He will face sentencing next month. The only question now is whether he will be sentenced alongside another convicted perpetrator.

Criminal trials, though often reported on in the press, are uncommon for the average criminal prosecution. Plea negotiations often result in a resolution that both the state and the accused agree upon. The effect of these types of deals essentially reduces the penalties the criminal defendant would face if he or she forced the prosecution to conduct a full trial.

Trials, however, become more common in high-profile crimes, such as Harris' murder, where the public may frown upon a lesser penalty. At the end of the day, a plea deal may be driven by multiple forces, including public reaction, political waves and sometimes other, unexpected motives.

As a result, the plea negotiation process can be filled with landmines alongside opportunities.

Given the stakes, i.e., the accused's freedom, it would be ill-advised to navigate the court process without proper advice about the case and knowledge of the Prince George County courts.

Source: The Washington Post, "Deliberations to begin in trial of Tyrone Lewis, accused of Va. activist's death," Sept. 9, 2013

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