Thirty-year sentence in stabbing death
By Beth Kramer firstname.lastname@example.org June 5, 2012 7:24PM
James E. Lewis
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:43AM
John Herres, 19, had just gotten all the credits he needed to graduate from high school and was planning to be a Marine and someday an architect.
He never got the chance to follow his dreams because James Lewis, 44, of Ingleside stabbed Herres in the abdomen on Feb. 14, 2010.
A jury convicted Lewis of murder. Lewis was in Lake County Circuit Court for his sentencing hearing Tuesday. He faced 20-60 years in prison.
Lewis was drunk at the time of the murder. His criminal history includes three DUI convictions and his first alcohol-related arrest was in 1989, according to Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew DeMartini.
Judge George Bridges sentenced Lewis to 30 years in prison to be followed by three years of parole.
“I do agree with the state that this was not a premeditated event. It was not something you woke up planning, but it was premeditated in a sense that you did take advantage of (alcohol-related) services. This is not a case that would warrant the minimum sentence,” Bridges said.
DeMartini asked Bridges to impose a 42-year prison sentence. Lewis chose to keep drinking after each DUI conviction and blamed alcohol for the reason his family life fell apart, DeMartini said.
“He knew that what he was doing was wrong and he knew his lifestyle wasn’t healthy. He hit rock bottom and went deeper and he took John Herres with him,” DeMartini said.
Lewis has been an alcoholic throughout his adult life, defense attorney Chris Lombardo said.
“He was highly intoxicated (at the time of the murder). Intoxication is what allowed him to have no appreciation for his reaction. He didn’t run from the situation or try to manufacture an excuse. He told detectives he screwed up,” Lombardo said.
Lewis extended his “deepest sympathy” toward the Herres family.
“I can’t express the deep regret I have, the shame that, because of me, the life of John Herres was cut short,” Lewis said.
He asked the court to “recognize that this was a disease of alcoholism.” Lewis said he wants to use his story to turn the lives around of others following his steps of alcoholism.
Herres’ parents, Joyce and Thomas Herres of Libertyville, spoke about their middle son and the pain they felt at losing him.
“Whatever happens to James Lewis will not end my pain. We can’t tell you how much pain he has caused,” Joyce said.
Herres died in the night at Advocate Condell Medical Center, Libertyville, of a stab wound to his stomach that pierced his heart.
Authorities said Lewis stabbed Herres after a dispute arose over a small amount of marijuana Lewis had sold Herres and a small group of people.
Thomas said at Tuesday’s hearing that the description of a drug deal gone bad was “false and injurious” to his son.
“No parent should ever have to bury their child ... he was a son, brother and true friend to many,” Thomas said.