Maryland Teen Who Killed Mom Over Grades Gets Life in Prison

A Maryland teenager who never got in trouble before beating his mother to death with a baseball bat after an argument over his grades was sentenced to life in prison Friday.

Lewin C. Powell III, 17, received the news about his sentence the way relatives and friends testified he dealt with everything: stoically, with no visible anger. The sentence does include a possibility of parole.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Kathleen G. Cox recommended Powell serve at least part of his sentence at the Patuxent Institute, a maximum-security psychiatric facility with a program for young offenders. But Powell's immediate future will be in the state prison system.

The teenager's attorneys asked Cox to suspend all but 20 years of his sentence. While attorney Shanell Kathleen Harleston has said Powell suffers from psychiatric problems and "just snapped" the day he attacked his mother, Cox rejected that characterization.

"This wasn't some snap thing," Cox said. "Mrs. Powell's death took hours. She begged to live. She tried multiple times to escape."

Powell was a 16-year-old sophomore honor student at a prestigious private school last May when he attacked his mother, 39-year-old Donna R. Campbell-Powell, at their home in suburban Towson.

Powell told police that after he beat her to death, he went to sleep with a plan to kill his father, Lewin C. Powell Jr. The next morning, he awoke and used the same bat to start beating his father, who had gotten home late from work and was sleeping on a sofa. The elder Powell talked his son out of killing him.

Powell will be eligible for parole in 15 years. But parole for an offender serving a life sentence in Maryland requires the approval of the governor, and that hasn't happened since 1994.

Harleston remained optimistic that Powell would buck that trend, calling her client "exceptional."