COLUMBUS, Ohio – A prosecutor dropped charges Thursday against an Ohio man accused of fatally shooting his identical twin after tests cast doubt on the key piece of evidence — a palm print of the defendant's that was believed to have been cast in blood.
Prosecutor Ron O'Brien of Franklin County Common Pleas Court said tests show that the print of Derris Lewis' palm found in the bedroom where the January 2008 shooting happened was not bloody, after all.
"The palm print was in fact the palm print of Derris Lewis that must have been placed on the wall at some unknown time prior to the homicide," O'Brien said.
Lewis had previously shared the bedroom at their mother's home with his twin, Dennis. Attorneys had argued it was natural that his print would be in the room.
Prosecutors had the palm print tested after two Columbus police fingerprint experts gave conflicting testimony about the print and whether it was in a blood-stained area of the wall.
Lewis, 19, had pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping in the death of his brother in a robbery at their mother's house in Columbus.
Prosecutors alleged that Dennis Lewis died in a fight with his brother, possibly over money Dennis was saving for a car. Police said they believed Derris acted alone but didn't say why they believe he killed his brother.
Both brothers, high school seniors at the time, were active in sports, band and theater. Friends, family and teachers described them as best friends, like peas in a pod. Derris gave interviews shortly after his brother's death saying he forgave Dennis' killer.
Derris was arrested about a month after the killing.
Prosecutors said fingerprints and the bloody palm print belonging to Derris linked him to the crime. They also implied he returned to the home days later and pretended to find $283 in cash in an envelope in his brother's bedroom.
Police have said they thoroughly searched the home the day of the shooting and never saw such an envelope.
The defense says Derris Lewis was sleeping in his apartment miles from the slaying, and three witnesses testified he was home at the time.
The defense also identified an alternate suspect and said police had not ruled out the suspect's gun as the murder weapon.