Man held 42 years for murder of off-duty Detroit cop could go free after county loses files

- Charles Lewis has been in prison since he was 17.

Now 58, Lewis is fighting to go free thanks to a major error by the county. Lewis was convicted of killing an off-duty police officer in Detroit.
He is now demanding his case be thrown out, because his case file somehow went missing.

A lot has changed since Charles Lewis was locked up for murder as he will tell you.

"I'm the only who has been here for the last 40 years," he said. "This is not the original prosecutor, not the original attorney; this is not the original judge. The only one who can really speak to what really should be is me."

And one of the problems of that, is there is no record of that change as Judge Qiana Denise Lillard explained.

"So your client doesn't have a file, and if the prosecutor's office doesn't have a file, the court should be able to provide both sides with whatever public document from the court file they need - in a perfect world.

"Unfortunately we are not in that world; we are in the 'Bizzaro' world called Wayne County."

It is bizarre because apparently Lewis isn't alone in having a missing case file.

"It's still a mystery," Lillard said. “I don't how it is that Mr. Lewis' file came up missing, sadly he's not the only person that's file is missing. The fact is everybody had a file except for the court."

This is crucial because back in 2012 the Michigan Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison, and that all juvenile lifers should get resentenced.

But his attorney says it’s hard to argue a case if the court doesn't have all the facts contained in the lost file of up to 10,000 pages.

"He's done 42 years they have nothing else and not a record. Give this man his freedom," said Rosie Lewis, his mother.

A freedom, Lewis said he was granted back in 2012.

"You know I'm in here without a sentence, five years without a sentence. I don't have a sentence right now," he said.

"His sentence was vacated. So he's in limbo," his attorney told the judge.

Ad a case he will soon have heard when they come back to court in one week for a bond hearing which potentially could get him out of jail for the first time in 41 years.

"It would just mean that I could live again," his mother said.

If granted bond he would potentially stay out of jail until the judge re-sentences him. No time table has been set for that.

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