New Haven Man Has Murder Charge Dismissed after He Serves Nearly 20 Years

By Beach, Randall | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), August 8, 2015 | Go to article overview

New Haven Man Has Murder Charge Dismissed after He Serves Nearly 20 Years


Beach, Randall, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


NEW HAVEN » Scott Lewis said Friday that during his 19 long years of incarceration and solo legal battles to win his freedom on a double-murder conviction, "I always knew the truth would prevail."

Lewis, now 50, and his childhood friend Stefon Morant, now 47, were convicted in separate trials in Superior Court in New Haven for the 1990 murders of Ricardo Turner and Lamont Fields at Turner's apartment on Howard Avenue.

After being convicted in May 1995 of murder and felony murder, Lewis received a 120-year prison sentence.

The jury that convicted Morant decided he was not the shooter but participated in the crime, so was still guilty on two counts of felony murder. He was sentenced to 70 years in prison.

After many rounds of legal motions, setbacks and eventual victories, both men are now free.

Lewis spent years acting as his own attorney from prison in an effort to overturn the conviction. He was trying to disprove the police assertions that he and Morant stole narcotics and money from the apartment and that Lewis fatally shot the victims.

Lewis was unsuccessful with his appeals until his case was taken up by Brett Dignam, then a professor at Yale Law School. In December 2013, Lewis' team won a ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Haight Jr. that, during his trial, state prosecutors had failed to tell the defense that the state's key witness, Ovil Ruiz, had repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the murders.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld that decision. The judges noted that Ruiz "only implicated Lewis after a police detective (Vincent Raucci) promised to let Ruiz go if he gave a statement in which he admitted to being the getaway driver and incriminated Lewis and Morant."

On Feb. 27, 2014, Lewis was ordered freed from prison, although ordered to wear an electronic ankle bracelet. But he still had to await the state's appeal of the federal approval of Lewis' habeas corpus petition.

On May 14 he won another victory when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Haight's ruling. Two weeks later, Assistant State's Attorney Mike Proto announced the state would not pursue the case any longer. And this week, Lewis walked into Superior Court in New Haven to hear Assistant State's Attorney Karen Roberg nolle the charges. Lewis' attorney, Richard Emanuel, immediately asked Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Clifford to dismiss those charges and Clifford did so.

About how he had felt as he left the courtroom, Lewis said, "I pretty much expected it. …

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