Jacksonville judge looking for answers to why evidence was destroyed in Duval County aggravated assault case

Jacksonville defense attorneys are asking that charges against a Jacksonville man be dropped now that key pieces of evidence in the case have been inexplicably destroyed. A metal pipe and a tent that could have been used to prove an alternate theory in the case against Robert Lewis were discovered to be destroyed when the defense went to inspect them earlier this month, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Lewis is charged with Jacksonville Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon for allegedly pointing a gun at two men and firing one shot in another direction without intending to hit anyone, the newspaper reported. The state has filed a three-year minimum mandatory in this case, meaning Lewis would be in prison for at least three years if convicted, but could face up to five years on the Duval County third-degree felony charge. Lewis is also charged with possession of a firearm by an adjudicated delinquent, a second-second felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

But Duval County criminal defense attorneys say it was Lewis who was the victim in the case, beaten unconscious by two men with a pipe in the tent he was living in, the newspaper reported. Lewis’ Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers say the crime scene was staged to look like Lewis was the aggressor. A forensic expert had examined the evidence and said it did appear to be staged, the newspaper reported. But now the pipe and the tent are gone. The Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer has asked for charges to be dropped now, and the judge is expected to make a decision in the case this week. The destruction of evidence can be a serious problem and must be taken seriously. In Lewis’ case, he’s been in jail since February on a charge he says he is innocent of, the newspaper reported. And the evidence that might set him free is now gone. Our justice system provides that everyone is entitled to a fair trial and to present his or her case to a jury of peers for the ultimate decision. But the hallmark to that defense is now gone. Mistakes certainly do happen from time to time, but shouldn’t the state take that into consideration and drop the charges against Lewis? He didn’t destroy the evidence. But the Jacksonville state attorney appears inclined to go forward with its case, even though Lewis’ defense is now severely limited. As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, it is troubling that key evidence is gone shortly before a trial is set to begin. Let’s hope it is just an isolated incident that does not happen again.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Assault Lawyer, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.