Vondell Lewis

County of Conviction:

Convicted of:





case details

Vondell Lewis was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1990 based off an eyewitness misidentification, police misconduct, and a false accusation. Making matters worse, Lewis had poor legal representation resulting in his wrongful conviction.

In the early morning of August 30, 1990, Vondell Lewis and some other people were hanging out and doing drugs at “A-Day’s house,” which was known for drugs and located in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles. A-Day and another guy named Curtis Fairley got into an argument, and A-Day told Fairley to leave. Lewis, who had been friends with Fairley for a long time, tried to get him to go. But Fairley stayed and continued to make a scene and upset many of the other house guests. Lewis tried to calm him down and tried to walk him out of the house, but Fairley attacked Lewis with a beer bottle. Lewis then pulled out a small gun to scare Fairley, and the two parted ways. However, three people at the party that day said Lewis didn’t threaten Fairley with a gun before the shooting.

Later, Lewis went to his friend Esther Collins’s house to get his stuff. About twenty minutes after he left, Collins heard a gunshot.

During the trial, a woman named Edna Gonzalez said she saw Lewis shoot Fairley from the window of A-Day’s house. But, now she says her original statement was made under pressure from detectives. She now explains she was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time and didn’t really see the shooting. She was certain she did not see the shooting because she had never seen anyone get shot in her entire life. Efrem Paysinger, said he was with Gonzalez at the time and they couldn’t have seen the shooting because they weren’t near the window. But Lewis’s lawyer didn’t talk to these witnesses. 

Additionally, a post-conviction investigation proved Edna would not have been able to see the shooting from the window where she claimed to be standing. Lewis’s original trial attorney did not investigate the distance and view from the window to the shooting.

Despite Raquel Barilla’s, Audrey McGinn’s, and Latham and Walkin’s efforts to prove Lewis’s innocence, the California courts failed to reverse his conviction. However, Lewis, who has always said he didn’t shoot his friend, was released on parole on March 7, 2018.

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