The Times West Virginian

October 22, 2013

Infant’s death ruled as homicide

Carolina man charged with first-degree murder of child faces preliminary hearing later this week

By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the death of a Taylor County infant as a homicide.

The Marion County man charged Friday with the first-degree murder of that infant faces a preliminary hearing this week in Grafton.

Marcus Curtis Lewis, 54, of Carolina, remains lodged at the North Central Regional Jail without bond for the death of a 2 1/2-month-old baby boy. He is charged with murder of a child by refusal/failure to supply necessities. He will have a probable cause hearing at 10:45 a.m. Friday, according to Taylor Magistrate James Leonard Lucas.

According to the criminal complaint filed at Taylor County Magistrate Court, on Oct. 12, Lewis went to the Boothsville area residence of the woman with whom he shared a 3-year-old daughter to put together a baby bed for the girl.

The mother left to go to Walmart, leaving Lewis to watch the girl and his biological child, a son born in August. According to the complaint, Lewis said the infant was “acting normal ... until several hours” after he arrived at the residence.

Lewis told police he believed the 3-year-old “had possibly jumped on” the infant. After this, he told police, the baby had cried “only for less than one minute and not cried or eaten the rest of the night.”

This occurred around 7:51 p.m., when Lewis sent a text message to the infant’s mother that the 3-year-old “was out of control.” This is believed to be when the infant was injured, the complaint continues.

Lewis checked the infant, who he said “had not acted normal,” at around 2:23 a.m. Finding him unresponsive, he called 911. The call was for an injured infant.

Resuscitative efforts were made, but the infant child was pronounced dead at United Hospital Center on Oct. 13, the complaint states.

An autopsy conducted by the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that the infant had died of subdural hematoma, or bleeding on the brain. There were no outward signs of abuse on the body, such as bruising or scratching, to show any physical abuse before death, the complaint states.

This led investigating officers to the conclusion that the baby had died “from shaking by Mr. Lewis,” the complaint states.

“When (the baby) began to show signs of distress, Mr. Lewis did nothing to help him until he called 911 6 1/2 hours later and (the baby) was possibly deceased at that time.”

Lewis was arrested at his Carolina home Friday. The Taylor County Sheriff’s Department originated the warrant, while the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and the Bridgeport and Fairmont detach­ments of the West Virginia State Police served the warrant.

Reportedly, he attempted to hide his vehicle, which was found “in a very abnormal place,” said West Virginia State Police Cpl. Isaac Harmon.

He had an initial appearance over the weekend via videoconference before Magistrate Ricky R. Reese.

The charge lodged against Lewis by Taylor sheriff’s Lt. Dayton Lee Mayle Jr. carries the same penalty of life in prison as first-degree murder.

Lewis is the evening custodian at Monongah Elementary School, Marion Superintendent Gary Price said.

Taylor County Prosecuting Attorney John Bord said Lewis faces one of several murder charges.

Under West Virginia Code, 61-8D-2(a), any parent, guardian or custodian who maliciously and intentionally causes the death of a child under his or her care, custody or control by his or her failure or refusal to supply such child with necessary food, clothing, shelter or medical care is guilty of murder in the first degree.

First-degree murder is premeditated or planned, he said. Conviction carries a life sentence with or without parole.

Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 10-40 years. Manslaughter has a sentence of one to five years.

In West Virginia, the difference between murder and manslaughter is that voluntary manslaughter arises in the heat of the moment, while murder arises from malice.

Although Lewis resides in Marion County, he is being charged in Taylor County because that’s where the alleged crime took place, Bord said.

According to files at the Marion County Magistrate Court and the West Virginia North Central Regional Jail site, Lewis has had previous charges.

He was arrested May 29, 2013, for felony burglary, daytime breaking and entering; on March 26, 2012, on felony charges; and March 26, 2011, on misdemeanor charges.

Email Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.