NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Attorneys for Adrian Lewis chose to present no witnesses or evidence on his behalf Wednesday after prosecutors spent seven days making their case.
Lewis is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Shanita Eure-Lewis, although she has never been found. Eure-Lewis was never seen or heard from again after the morning of July 17, 2022.
Defense attorneys for Adrian Lewis tried to get the first-degree murder and gun charges thrown out Wednesday afternoon, once they made it known they would not present any evidence or call any witnesses. They cited the fact that Shanita Eure-Lewis has never been found. However, Judge Bryant Sugg refused, saying the Commonwealth had presented “an abundance of circumstantial evidence” that someone killed her.
The Commonwealth summarized some of that evidence — blood on the cleaning rags used to clean the passenger side of Lewis’s pick up truck the day Shanita disappeared; Lewis’s threats that he would kill his wife, if he ever caught her cheating; Lewis’s former girlfriend testifying he showed her a gun four days before Shanita’s disappearance; a total drop-off of communication from Shanita, someone who averaged more than 100 texts and phone calls a day before she disappeared; Google searches on what happens when you shoot someone in the head, and the penalty for murder in Virginia.
Earlier, the jury heard phone calls Lewis had made from the Newport News jail in the days and weeks following his wife’s disappearance.
In one call, Shanita’s mother demands to know where her daughter is, and whether she is still alive. “I can’t tell you,” Lewis responded, and repeated that four more times.
In another call with his sons, they ask “where’s mom at?” Lewis tells them, ”Don’t worry, she’s going to turn up.”
Three weeks after anyone ever heard from or saw Shanita, her sister tells Lewis in another call that his two teenage sons believe that their mom committed suicide, because they have no other information. When Lewis hears this, he cries on the jail phone.
In that same call, Lewis says, “I’m not gonna have my life ruined.”
After the jury gets the judge’s instructions Thursday morning on deliberations and attorneys from both sides make their closing arguments, the jury will begin deciding whether Adrian Lewis is guilty or not in the death of his wife.
A detective used cell phone data to show the movements of Adrian Lewis and his wife the day she went missing. But it was the Internet searches he was doing on that phone that were the most chilling evidence so far.
Do you die instantly from a shot to the head and do you feel any pain at all?
Will a bullet to the brain kill you? What is the penalty for murder in Virginia?
Newport News Police Detective Andrew Parker testified during a multimedia exhibit that combined data from Lewis’ and his wife Shanita’s phones in the days leading up to her disappearance.
The presentation showed that after Lewis had picked her up from the Sunday, July 17 service at Gethsemane Baptist Church, he drives his Chevy Silverado pickup to a local Little Caesars parking lot. Lewis gets out of the truck, opens the passenger door, wipes the inside of that door, and his wife Shanita‘s legs are visible in the front seat with no apparent movement.
Hours later, he has a friend clean the passenger side of the truck. A forensics investigator found blood in several areas near the passenger seat.
Amy Jo Townley, a scientist with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, examined the blood samples and testified that she “could not eliminate Shanita as a match,” but based on comparison with a known sample of Shanita’s DNA, the chances of the blood coming from another person were one in more than 7 billion.
Shanita averaged more than 150 calls and texts per day prior to the day she went missing, but her sister could not reach her on that Sunday. Cell records showed Lewis’ phone and his wife’s phone traveling together for several hours around Newport News after the truck left the Little Caesars parking lot.
At about 6:20 that evening, T-Mobile records showed the two phones were crossing the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. While still on the HRBT, Shanita’s phone stopped its connection with the provider. Adrian Lewis’ phone remained in operation.
Later that Sunday, Lewis caught a flight from Norfolk to Dulles International Airport. Other searches while Lewis waited for flights at those airports included Can police track your phone? Does Jamaica have extradition?
Lewis was arrested at Dulles the next day, July 18. He was waiting for a 12:30 p.m. flight to Montego Bay. He had with him his wife’s passport and credit cards.
Outside the courthouse late Tuesday afternoon, Lewis’ sister told 10 On Your Side her brother’s defense attorneys have advised him not to testify.
Jurors saw pictures from inside Adrian Lewis’s Chevy Silverado late Monday afternoon, described by Commonwealth witness Abigail Bratlein, an investigator with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science. Bratlein said she noticed a reddish brown stain inside on the passenger side. She treated it with an agent that would turn pink wherever blood were present. The jury saw a picture showing a pink substance dripping down from the seat track of the passenger seat, onto the carpeting in the rear of the four-door Silverado.
Bratlein said she then used a different agent that indicated blood by turning blue. It signaled blood on the passenger door panel, the side of the center console, and the passenger floor area. She did say under cross examination by Public Defender Edward Webb that the agent can sometimes turn other substances blue, including bleach.
Bratlein also testified she found a black leather gun holster underneath the truck’s driver’s seat.
Hours after Shanita went missing, Adrian Lewis had a friend clean his truck. A Newport news detective searched the dumpster nearby. His body cam video shows him recovering two rags — one green, one yellow, and as he was removing them from the dumpster, he’s heard to say on his body cam “that’s blood”.
An evidence technician pointed to a spent cartridge casing she found while photographing the truck. It was on the outside, near the windshield down in the wiper well.
Soon the jury will hear evidence about where Adrian Lewis was, and with whom he spoke in the time surrounding the disappearance of Shanita. A pair of Newport news detectives described how they extracted key data from five cell phones and an iPad related to the case.
They belong to Deidra Eure, the younger sister of Shanita. She testified that hours after her sister’s disappearance Lewis called her and told her to take care of the couple’s two sons.
Another phone belonged to Adrian Lewis, charged with murder. He was the last person seen with his wife, and was arrested the next day at Dulles International Airport with a ticket to Jamaica.
The detectives also analyzed the phone of Tomeka Davis, the former girlfriend of Lewis, who testified last week that he brought a gun with a laser sight to her home four days before Shanita disappeared, and the phone of Darrell Witts, who cleaned out the passenger side of Lewis’s Chevy truck, and testified last week that he found a red jelly like substance on the seat.
The Commonwealth explained to the jury how local and federal authorities caught up with Adrian Lewis as he was preparing to leave the country, a little more than 24 hours after the last time anyone saw Shanita Eure-Lewis.
After Newport News detectives had found Shanita’s purse, shoes and Bible in a dumpster two blocks from home, they notified authorities at Dulles International Airport to stop and detain Lewis. A day earlier, he had told the couple’s two sons he was leaving for Jamaica.
Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Abdul Majeed found Lewis with a backpack sitting next to him. He brought Lewis to a room away from the public areas of the airport.
Two Newport News detectives arrived and questioned Lewis, describing him as calm and polite.
When they explained to him they were investigating the disappearance of his wife Shanita, Lewis is heard on the video saying, “she’s cheating. I haven’t done anything to her. I know it looks suspect — me going somewhere. I have family and friends in Jamaica. I need to clear my head. People will back me up.”
One of the detectives then told Lewis, “our priority is to locate her.” Lewis responded, “I need to get away.”
And then the detectives, armed with a search warrant, found incriminating evidence: Shanita’s passport, COVID-19 vaccination card, and her Capital One, Discover and Bank America credit cards.
Back in Newport News, police launched an extensive search. They combed streets and wooded areas, even getting in a canoe to search Newmarket Creek.
They checked the skies for buzzards and vultures and used a drone and a cadaver dog, but Shanita was nowhere to be found.
The Commonwealth said Lewis dumped his wife’s belongings in a dumpster, but he didn’t go far to do it. It was at the corner of South Avenue and Jefferson, less than two blocks from where they lived.
A Newport News officer identified a handbag, two pair of shoes and a Bible among other items belonging to Shanita Eure-Lewis.
A woman from Jordan testified that she had a lengthy conversation with Lewis while he was at Dulles Airport trying to leave the country. Darin Frihat said Lewis spoke of his wife in the past tense, and told her, “I wouldn’t care if she got hit by a truck.” Frihat said Lewis mentioned that his wife was cheating on him with her foot doctor, who testified Wednesday that the two were “emotionally intimate,” and communicated frequently, but did not have a sexual relationship.
Frihat said Lewis told her he was wanting to get to Africa and live in the forest, but he also told her he was traveling to a wedding, even though his wife had gone missing earlier that day.
Frihat said she began to feel unsafe around Lewis and notified the hostess in the lounge. Authorities arrested Lewis in the early morning hours of July 18, 2022.
The prosecutors were building a timeline of Lewis’s movements July 17, 2022 using surveillance video from several locations. Video showed Lewis pawning a necklace and several rings for a total of $900 at a shop in Western Branch around 1 p.m. In the video, Lewis has two cell phones, but it was unclear whether the second phone belonged to his wife.
Other video put him at a convenience store and a Little Caesar’s restaurant earlier in the day.
Darrell Witts, a vehicle detailer whose criminal past includes a conviction for manslaughter, described how Lewis had him clean the seat of the Chevy Silverado truck. Witts said he noted a red jelly-like substance on the passenger seat, where Shanita had been riding.
10 On Your Side’s Chris Horne was sitting right in front of the mother of Shanita Eure-Lewis Thursday in the courtroom. When Frihat completed her testimony and came down from the witness stand, she whispered to her, “I hope you find peace.”
Adrian Lewis, 50, had told others his wife was having an affair, even though he himself had a woman on the side. That woman was Tomeka Davis, who testified that she and Lewis had an on-again, off-again affair while Lewis was married. She said on July 13, 2022, four days before Shanita went missing, Adrian Lewis came to her home — drunk — and showed her a gun with a green laser sight. She told him “don’t do anything crazy.”
Davis said Lewis was smelling of alcohol that night and had beer in his Chevy Silverado pickup, and told her that “if Shanita doesn’t act right. she’s done.”
Shanita’s younger sister, Deidra Eure, identified jewelry belonging to her sister that she claimed Davis said he would hawk in order to buy a gun.
Deidra Eure said she spotted her brother-in-law near a dumpster a few hours after she last heard from her sister, describing him wearing a tee-shirt that was “drenched in sweat”. Police later pulled items from that dumpster that Eure identified as Shanita’s purse, sandals, and shoes along with a shovel.
Deidra Eure testified that when she grew anxious after not hearing from her sister for several hours, Lewis told her that Shanita had jumped from the pickup on Jefferson Avenue and walked away.
Davis also testified she received a call from Adrian Lewis several hours after Shanita was last seen in which he allegedly said, ”I did it,” then later said he was just joking.
The Lewises’ son Caleb, 15, told the court that the last time he saw his mother, she told him and his younger brother Christian how much she loved them. Caleb testified that his father told him their Aunt Deidra would take care of them because he was heading to Jamaica as he gathered credit cards and his passport that Sunday morning. Adrian never said anything to him and his brother about their mother taking care of them, Caleb testified.
The man Lewis thought was having an affair with his wife was her foot doctor, Carlos Myers. Myers said he was very close friends with Shanita, and at one point they were texting each other as many as 10 times daily, even saying they were “emotionally intimate,” but he insisted the relationship was not sexual.
There was no eye contact between the son and the defendant as the 15-year-old walked down from the stand and left the courtroom.
Opening arguments were heard Tuesday morning after the jury was seated. The court heard testimony from some of the people who were closest to Eure-Lewis, including a pastor who said Adrian told him he hoped his wife rots in hell.
The first witness to be questioned was Mitchell Foreman, who described himself as a friend of Adrian’s because their wives were best friends.
He said he’d first met Eure-Lewis in 2010. The two sang in the choir of Gethsemane Baptist Church in Newport News, where he is still an active member.
Foreman described a trip to Las Vegas in which Lewis got off the plane bothered that his wife had worn leggings in public.
In December 2021, he recalled Lewis saying that if his wife ever cheated on him, he’d kill her.
Foreman’s recollection of Lewis in the weeks leading up to his wife’s disappearance are that of a controlling man spiraling through grief and anger as his marriage disintegrates.
On July 8, 2022, he said Lewis called him and explained that Eure-Lewis wanted to get a divorce. He was sure it was because she was cheating on him.
Foreman testified that Lewis said that he was from the streets and handled things that way, and that he couldn’t just let her walk away from the relationship.
Foreman said he took Lewis out for dinner to get his mind off of the situation on July 15, two days after getting a call from his wife that he was suicidal.
During that evening, Lewis had Foreman drive by an apartment complex, where he told him he had a secret apartment where he brought women to cheat on his wife.
On July 17, Eure-Lewis went missing after the first Sunday church service at Gethsemane. Foreman said he texted her four times and could tell that last two were never read.
Later in the day, he said Lewis called him and said to take care of his boys because he was going to Mexico — Eure-Lewis had admitted to cheating on him and kicked him out of the house.
The second witness to testify was Tiffany Foreman, wife of Mitchell Foreman. She said she’d known Eure-Lewis for over 30 years and spoke to her every day.
The two were extremely active in church ministry and worked together on events.
She recounted the story of Lewis saying he’d kill his wife if she cheated on him during a Christmas party, as well as the suicidal episode in July 2022.
She said the last time she saw Eure-Lewis was in passing after the first church service July 17, 2022.
The leader of Gethsemane Baptists, Pastor Dwight Riddick told the court that he’d known Eure-Lewis since she was a small girl because her family attended the church.
He described a series of impromptu counseling sessions with Lewis and Eure-Lewis in July 2022 as their relationship frayed.
Shortly before 3 p.m. on the day of his wife’s disappearance, Riddick said Lewis called him and said that Eure-Lewis had admitted to cheating on him, thrown her phone at him and gotten out of the car they were both in.
Later that evening, the pastor called back and asked Lewis if he’d done anything crazy.
Riddick said that Lewis told him he hoped his wife rots in hell.
The first day was devoted to picking a jury, with attorneys striking from three different prospective groups. Witnesses were also sworn in.
Due to seating limitations, the press was not allowed into the courtroom for most of the day.