LA MARQUE — The trial of a teenage boy accused of fatally stabbing a woman 28 times ended Tuesday with his conviction on a capital murder charge and an automatic life sentence.

A jury of eight women and four men deliberated 6½ hours before reaching its verdict. The panel found Jor’Dan Jacqueinn Maurice Lewis, 16, guilty in the slaying of Vaneeda Wright, 84. Prosecutors said Wright was killed in the course of a robbery.

Wright’s daughter and young grandson found her dead May 29, 2011, in her La Marque home on Prune Street. Wright’s body was on her kitchen floor in a pool of blood, and a butcher knife was left embedded in her cheek.

On Tuesday, Wright’s family breathed a sigh of relief, and Lewis stared at the defense table as visiting Judge David Garner read the jury’s verdict. The trial was in Galveston’s Constitutional Courtroom at the Justice Center.

About an hour later, Garner sentenced Lewis to life in prison as required by law, but Lewis, because of his age, becomes eligible for parole after 40 years. Lewis was too young to face the death penalty. He could be the youngest person certified in Galveston County to stand trial as an adult on a capital murder charge.

Five days of testimony

Prosecutors Kevin Petroff and Rebecca Russell spent five days presenting evidence that included crime scene photographs, a palm print and DNA testimony.

After receiving multiple stab wounds, Wright was likely alive at least 20 minutes before she died, Dr. Stephen Pustilnik, Galveston County’s chief medical examiner, testified Monday.

Two knives and possibly a two-pronged barbecue fork were used in the attack.

‘Animals like you’

After Garner pronounced the sentence, Deborah Tagle read a statement to Lewis, praising law enforcement for making a quick arrest and telling Lewis he butchered her mother, the family matriarch, the glue that held her family together.

“My greatest wish is you remain caged up like the animal you are,” Tagle told Lewis, who stared at the table during the statement.

Defense attorney Margaret Hindman told the jury that Lewis, who was 14 at the time of the slaying, wasn’t solely to blame and that evidence not collected from the crime scene could have implicated another person in the killing. Lewis also befriended adult men, who let him use their apartment the weekend of the murder for sex with women. Drinking and drug use were also prevalent, testimony revealed.

 

Convicting evidence

Authorities collected a palm print from the face of a floor cabinet that was directly above Wright’s body. Testimony revealed the print was a match for Lewis.

A day after the killing, Lewis met with La Marque police, and an officer found earrings in his pocket. The earring contained DNA from Lewis and Wright’s family.

A neighbor last saw Wright alive at 1:30 p.m. Thirty minutes later, the neighbor saw Lewis walk up to the home, but he couldn’t see whether Lewis went inside. Lewis was once a neighbor of Wright’s and played with her grandson.

‘Hit a lick’

Kimberly Jackson, 25, of La Marque testified she had sex with Lewis, and two days later he spoke of wanting to “hit a lick” on the day of the killing. La Marque police said the phrase is slang for committing robbery or burglary.

Jackson also testified she was a passenger in a car driven by Travis Mills, who took them to Wright’s neighborhood. Lewis left for an hour, and she and Mills picked up Lewis from in front of Wright’s house. Lewis carried a pillowcase full of jewelry, Jackson said.

Mills, 22, awaits trial on charges of aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.

Jackson also testified that when Lewis entered the car with the jewelry, he said he killed somebody but later he said he was just kidding.

Petroff told the jury Lewis made a second confession to a woman after having sex with her.

Judge Michelle Slaughter of Galveston’s 405th District Court appointed attorney Winston Cochran to handle Lewis’ appeal, Garner said.

Contact reporter Chris Paschenko at 409-683-5241 or chris.paschenko@galvnews.com.

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(14) comments

JBG JBG

"But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a mighty stream!"
Amos 5:24.

Randy Chapman

I hope he gets the same treatment in prison that he gave this poor woman.

Steve Fouga

"He could be the youngest person certified in Galveston County to stand trial as an adult on a capital murder charge."

What does this mean, exactly? Is there another trial yet to come? Or does the reporter mean that the defendant seems pretty young, so maybe he's the youngest ever, but the reporter was too lazy to find out for sure?

Anyone know?

Richard Worth
Richard Worth

Like.

Loriee Carnell

This beautiful woman is / was my Aunt. She did not deserve what that animal did to her. AuntI Vaneeda was a Christian, a caring, wonderful, devoted woman to anyone who knew her. I hope that she can rest in peace. I know that our family will be much happier with him in prison where he belongs. He will get what he deserves in there. He wanted to play with the big boys, well now he has it. I may not be around when he comes up for parole, but I know that her grandchildren, & great grandchildren will be @ every parole hearing. Aunt Vaneeda you are greatly missed by all of us. We LOVE you & will never forget you. May you rest in peace.

Don Ciaccio

Jack Roady and his team should be commended for a job extremely well done. Because of Mr. Roady and his team, we can all sleep better knowing this animal is off the streets for the next 40 years!

Paul Hyatt

The LaMarque PD the DA and the jury all need to be thanked for doing their jobs correctly and sending this thug off to jail.... I do agree with JBGood that I do hope and pray that this kid will truly find the Lord Jesus and turn his life around.... Yes he needs to pay for his crimes, but he also needs to repent and then to be forgiven....

sverige1
Lars Faltskog

Nah...he should just "fry". Someone in prison will give him his commupence. That always seems to happen. Just one prisoner who has taken wind that he did what he did to an elderly woman, just one other prisoner who somehow had a deep relationship with his own grandma or great-aunt despite being a criminal - he will give him his just reward.

Then Jesus, Mary, and Joseph on the cross - or a happy budda - can then judge this dreg.

Robert Buckner

Hopefully the appeals process will not alter this jury's or judge's decision. Then the community may have a little bit of peace. I am very sorry for what Mrs. Wright's family has had to endure the last few years. I am also curious as to why we've never heard anything from Lewis' family. This boy must have had a terriblle home life but it doesn't excuse what he did.

Sheila Ewing

Not to get away from the fact that this innocent woman was brutally murdered but in reading the articles, wasn't rape involved here? The 25 year old female was having sex that weekend with the murdere who wasn't even 16 then!

JBG JBG

Prosecution did a marvelous job, no doubt about it, but let us not forget about the job LaMarque PD performed in building this case along with making the arrest of the suspect in a timely fashion. Yes, this young man will have many hours, many days, weeks,months and years, to ponder where and WHY, he missed the right fork in the road. My hope and prayer for him is somehow he find JESUS in the mist of all his pondering time.

One of the things this community and even society should be cognizant of is, how can we minimize the chances of other families like the Wright, and Lewis families going through such a tragedy as we all have witnessed here. Have we seen the last of this kind of behavior? We know in our hearts that answer is no, for many reasons the answer is still no.

There will be others like this suspect who will develop an urge to "HIT A LICK"..and it is not a condemnation on this community particularly, but on society in general! Mass murders are taking place on the streets of Chicago, people are getting killed on the streets of Los Angles California by gangs, who have provided a secondary sense of belonging to individuals who never knew the difference between a home and a house.

This country is having problems upon problems because of the failures of the homes and the eradication of families in this country! Yes, and by the failure of prior generations to pass on the disciplines, work ethics, integrity, and moral values they received from the generation before them.

Now, there seems to be no need to work hard for better, when you can go out and TAKE what someone else has worked hard,and sweated to accomplished or achieve. It is a fact of life and a truth, which many older orientals are experiencing in this country now. Their children, year by year, are forgetting the ethics and behavior, which their parents learned well in the motherland! Their children are becoming more and more like the rest of us. When will we learn? Is it already to late?

We currently have armed policemen with guns and clubs in our schools in the place of one Assistant Principal with a stick drilled with holes, we use to deploy in them.
What happened? I'll tell you what happened. The same thing happened which would happen if you unlock the doors to every dangerous CAGED ANIMAL in a zoo! The ANIMALS will upon finding the doors unlocked will feel and be empowered to take over the ZOO!

This society by weakening the pillars of the home, has unlocked the doors to the cages of destruction. Last year I watch a San Antonia Judge on TV tell a mother if she spank her little girl one more time, he was going to send her to the county jail!
He went on to say, "You and I got spankings, but those days are over, we don't do that anymore!" "Do you understand me mam?" The little lady stood there on TV helpless,and cried, nodding her head yes!

All of us are not animals, but it does not take everybody to be animals in order for us to have an animalistic society. Last time I checked we were building more prisons than we ere colleges in this country, what a disparaging thought, when things could be so different. Hosea 8:7 says, "They sow the Wind and reap the Whirlwind..."

Lastly, I would like to say again as I did, a year or so ago, God bless the family of Ms. Wright! I did not know her, but I did not have to, because her deeds and her works, spoke LOUD and CLEAR, and efforts of those kind, will go untouched through the fire of judgement! I also prey that the Lewis family will find peace in all this through the Word of God, the only peace guaranteed to last.

sverige1
Lars Faltskog

Response to rmercado posted at 9:00am on Wed, Mar 6, 2013:

This degenerate probably physically abused the girlfriend/bed partner many times over. She likely has self esteem issues, as it would indicate so, since she had been hanging with this sort.

kevjlang
Kevin Lang

It seems to me that there's a lot more scum involved in this that still needs to be cleaned up before there can be a full sense of justice. Definitely, the locking up of Lewis gets the biggest stench off the streets, but I think that he may have been a bit scummy to begin with, but some of that slime rubbed off of others onto him. Let's hope those scumbags get what they need out of this, too.

Kerrie29

He got just what he deserved... Have a nice life youngster!

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