Braheem and Hakim Lewis, in addition to Ricky Mallory, were convicted in 1998 of attempted murder and related charges.
All three men have remained incarcerated, but the women who love them believe the three have served more time in prison than their charges legally warranted.
“Braheem Lewis is my husband and a very good man who has, unfortunately, not had an opportunity to really give back to society because the majority of his life he has been incarcerated,” said Shereen Lewis.
Lewis said her husband has four children whom he has not had an opportunity to raise as a result of his arrest.
The case dates back to 1996 when the three men were said to have shot multiple times at a vehicle driven by Dante Hunter on the 4300 block of Pensgrove Street after a disagreement over drugs and money. The case was initially dropped, but was reopened two years later after Hunter agreed to testify.
In an odd legal roller-coaster dating back to 1996, the men were granted new trials which were never held, had charges reduced with no corresponding reduction in the time for which they have been sentenced and, according to the Lewis women, had alibi witnesses at the time of trial who never had the opportunity to testimony.
“When you look at the paperwork and you know the facts of what happened, I don’t know why they are still there [in prison],” Shereen said.
According to Shereen, the men should have never have been incarcerated — and if convicted, should never have received such lengthy sentences.
“So why were they given so much time?” she asked. “When these men were arrested they had no prior records and the crimes for which they were sentenced, attempted murder and associated charges, anyone could tell you just doesn’t fit.”
Sherry, the wife of Hakim Lewis, said the case against the Lewis brothers was originally dropped, the men released and the case dismissed with prejudice in 1996.
However, the case was later reopened two years later after the arrest of the alleged victim Dante Hunter on unrelated charges in a separate incident.
This is where things get weird, according to the Lewis women.
The sole witness in the case against the Lewis brothers, Dante Hunter, was arrested in a separate incident and, according to Sherry, was facing a sentence of life without the possibility of parole if convicted.
However, she believes that he was given a ten-year sentence instead in exchange for his testimony in the Lewis case, much less than he would have received had he not cooperated with authorities.
The sisters believe that he was coerced to provide false testimony at trial with the threat of a life sentence used as the incentive for his cooperation and that he bartered perjured testimony for an opportunity to avoid spending the rest of his life in jail. The Lewis brothers are now serving 35 years as a result.
“I believe [they were given so much time] because of personal gain. None of these men had a prior record, they were innocent of the crime and he [the sentencing judge] actually gave them too much time. He went far over the guidelines,” said Sherry whose husband has a daughter, who was 3 years old at the time of his arrest, and is now 17. He also has two stepchildren who have been forced to grow up without him.
“The family and I have been fighting this battle for a long, long time,” Sherry said. “We just want them to come home. This is a great injustice to our family.”