10 Investigates Looks At Lost Leads In Dennis Lewis Murder Case


UPDATED: Friday February 1, 2013 12:55 PM

“I ran straight through this lady's yard. My sister ran and grabbed me,” said Derris Lewis.

Staring into a north side home, Derris Lewis remembers the beginning of his struggle that continues to this day.   

“Justice, you know, it has to be served,” said Lewis.

Justice failed Derris Lewis five years ago, when someone broke into the home.

Robbers held his mother at gunpoint. As crime scene photos show, they beat his twin brother Dennis bloody. Then, someone shot and killed Dennis.

Columbus Police Detectives arrested Derris for the murder after the department improperly analyzed a bloody palm print.  

After serving a year and a half in jail and suffering through a trial, police finally realized they had the wrong man and let Derris go.

“When I first walked out, it was fresh air,” said Lewis.

The city eventually paid Derris for his lost freedom, but that couldn't compensate him for his lost brother.

“It's a void that can't be filled, you know, as a twin,” added Lewis. “It's still that notion that these people are still out there. And that's why we're focused on this today. This just can't be swept under the rug.”

10 Investigates wanted to know whether detectives had made any headway on the case since 2008.

10TV started by looking at leads police had before they arrested Derris. 10 Investigates found several possible suspects, including a man who 10TV is not naming because he was never charged.

Police arrested the man, who is referred to as RSH, with a handgun that could not be excluded as the murder weapon. According to an investigative file 10 Investigates obtained, his girlfriend told police that he was involved.

“I had a very strong alternative theory as to what happened,” said Attorney Adam Nemann.

Nemann got Derris out of jail, and he has always believed that Derris’ cousin, Joey Westbrook, may have indirectly triggered the murder.

When Westrbook moved into the house, Derris moved out. Later, police arrested Westbrook on drug charges in Portsmouth. Nemann said within a day of the arrest, the robbers hit the Lewis house.  

“Word got up from Portsmouth, perhaps, that he'd been arrested and some young men decided they were going to do what's called a ‘lick,’ a home invasion, robbery; very common these days,” said Nemann.

Nemann thought he might be able to show that's how RSH got involved. But at trial, RSH refused to testify. He told 10 Investigates he had nothing to do with the killing.

"My hand on the Bible, I didn't,” said RSH.

Det. Ralph Taylor, with the Homicide Cold Case Unit, said his team has exhausted the leads from the first investigation.

“We've looked at those and got them to the point where we had to look other places,” said Taylor.

Detectives said they have all but ruled RSH out. However, 10 Investigates has learned they are actively looking into the Portsmouth theory, and the possibility that someone who knew Westbrook is responsible.  

10 Investigates contacted Westbrook through prison officials where he declined an interview.

Det. Taylor said he believes the case can be solved, with time.

“Something needs to give here,” said Derris. “I believe it will.”

Reward money might help.

As 10TV told you, Lewis attorney Adam Nemann is offering a $5,000 reward.

That's in addition to $2,000 reward now being offered by Southern Ohio Crimestoppers.

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