Lon A. Lewis, who was convicted of having his wife and infant daughter murdered as part of a "You-kill-my-wife-I'll-kill-yours" plot, was sentenced yesterday to life prisonment.
Before the sentence was imposed, Lewis, 29, told Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge Jacob S. Levin that he deserved the death penalty.
"I do deserve the death penalty," Lewis told the judge when asked if he had anything to say. "It would make me the happiest guy in the world."
The judge did not have this option, however, since there was no death penalty law in Maryland last Sept. 23. That was the day that Lewis' convicted coconspirator, Gene T. Meyer, stabbed Carol Ann Lewis and her daughter Heather Lynn to death in their Bowie home.
Instead, the judge sentenced Lewis to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and added a consecutive 30-year-sentence for the murder of his daughter.
The additional 30-year sentence potentially adds time to the minimum of 15 years that Lewis must serve before becoming eligible for parole.
Lewis was convicted of first degree murder on May 26 and also was found guilty of six other counts of conspiracy and solicitating murder. Lewis's confession to police was presented to the jurors. In it, Lewis said he and Meyer, who worked for the same computer company, had discussed murdering each other's wives for several months.
Yesterday's sentencing, like the trial, was held in a packed courtroom and was marked by bitter exchanges between prosecutor Joseph Sauerwein and defense attorney Leslie L. Gladstone.
In asking for the maximum sentence, Sauerwein said, "the death penalty would be too good for Mr Lewis, Any punishment would be too good for him. Even the lowest animals protect their own."
Gladstone jumped to his feet as soon as Sauerwein finished saying. "That, Your Honor, was one of the most irresponsible statements I've ever heard a prosecutor make."
In pronouncing sentence, Levin noted the brutality of the crime and agreed with Sauerwein that Lewis was an active coconspirator, and not victim of Meyer's as Gladstone had contended. Gladstone had based this contention on psychological tests that showed Lewis was incapable of understanding what was going on as the plot was played out.
Meyer was sentenced to life on June 6.
"I was given this case in January," Levin said, "and I have lived with other cases since then. But they will not live me the rest of my life. This case will. . . ."