Lon A. Lewis, accused of conspiring to murder his wife and daughter, testified yesterday that the "You-kill-my-wife, I'll-kill-yours" plot he discussed with Gene T. Meyer, "never seemed real, it was always like a game."
During 90 minutes of emotional testimony in Prince George's County Circuit Court Lewis, under questioning from his attorney, Leslie Gladstone, recounted the events leading up tothe stabbing deaths Sept. 23 of his wife Carol and 4-month-old daughter Heather.
Meyer, 28, was convicted on April 27 of their murders, which took place at the Lewis home at 4807 Raemore La, Bowie.
Lewis, his voice shaking from the outset, broke down and cried on numerous occasions, especially when Gladstone asked several times questions such as, "Why didn't you just tell him (Meyer) to get bent?"
Each time, Lewis hung his head and in a choked voice answered, "I wish I knew," or "I just don't know."
Lewis, 29, recounted his meetings with Meyer at Gene's on the Pike Tavern, 11608 Rockville Pike, Rockville, the two were at computer training sessions in San Antonio to "take care of things back home."
Lewis said the intial offer was made after the two had each had several drinks and split a bottle of wine in a San Antonio restaurant and Meyer had commented on how happy Lewis seemed with the woman Lewis had been having an affair with there.
"After that, when we got home, whenever I had to call his office on business he would get on the phone and ask me if I had thought about his offer," Lewis said. "I always said I'd have to think about it."
Lewis said that during three meetings in the Rockville bar he and Meyer discussed getting rich by a number of methods, including marrying women then killing them to collect life insurance. Meyer allegedly wanted his own wife killed for that purpose.
Each time Lewis finished describing a conversation with Meyer, Gladstone asked him, "did you want your wife dead at this point?" Each time Lewis, his voice breaking, ansereed, "no sir."
Once Gladstone asked, "Did you love Carol," and Lewis answered, "I've always loved Carol."
Lewis said that sexual incompatibiltiy had brought about a separation in 1974. He said that "things were better when we went back," and added that his affair and his wife's pregnancy, "made things easier, I was a lot less frustrated."
Lewis said it was on Thursday night, Sept. 22, the night before the murders when Meyer showed up at his home unexpectedly that he first thought Meyer might be serious about murder.
"I didn't even know he knew my address," Lewis said. "We went into the living room while Carol was in the den watching TV. He told me if I hadn't been there he would have taken care of things then.
"Later he told me to work late the next day.I said I didn't know if I'd be working late. He said 'Do you want me to take all three of them out? I told him I could take care of my baby and my dog.
"He said he would come by the next night and if my car wasn't there he'd do it. He told me if I came in while he was still there, he'd waste me too. I didn't really think he meant any of it"
Lewis testified that the next day, on a job in Columbia, he learned he would have to work late and called his wife.
"Did you tell her to take Heather and get out of the house?" Gladstone asked. "No sir," Lewis replied. "Did you love your wife, daughter and dog," Gladstone said. "Were they everything you had?"
"Yes, they were," Lewis answered, sobbing.
"Then why didn't you take precautions to protect everything you had and loved?" Gladstone asked.
"I've been asking myself that for eight months," Lewis answered, barely audible. He then recounted seeing Meyer's car coming from the direction of his house as he was driving home.
Later, he recalled his two days of questioning and polygraph testing at police headquarters, saying he was accused,"over and over again of killing my wife and baby.
"By the time I talk to Cpl. (T.R.) Tucker I was drained. I had been crying and yelling that I wasn't a murderer for two days. I'd been carrying the thing inside me for two weeks.
"I couldn't take being called a murderer anymore. I knew who did, that Gene Meyer did it, but I was as guilty as he was. I told him I wished I was dead."
"Was that the truth?" Gladstone asked.
"It still is the truth," Lewis said, burying his head in his hands, his crying the only sound in the packed courtroom.
Lewis will be cross-examined this morning by prosecutor Joseph Sauerwein.