Man Facing Sentencing in Wife’s Shooting Kills Himself

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A Millfield man who had been allowed to stay out of jail after a guilty plea on felonious assault charges killed himself days before his sentencing was to take place.

Jerry Lewis, 60, was found dead in Parkersburg Tuesday, according to County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn.

"This is a permanent solution to a temporary problem," Blackburn told The Messenger on Tuesday. "He has chosen not to face his punishment and taken the easy way out."

The news of Lewis' death comes a day after the prosecution made a motion to revoke Lewis' bond and requested a warrant for his arrest after it was reported that Lewis had threatened a man who had a temporary protection order against him.

The protection order had been filed against Lewis on Sept. 20, when the man said Lewis would not stop contacting him.

The Athens County Sheriff's Office was notified by the Parkersburg Police Department that Lewis had shot himself.

An autopsy had been ordered, according to Sheriff Patrick Kelly.

Officers went to a residence on Putnam Street in Parkersburg to serve a warrant on Lewis, according to Sgt. Greg Collins, of the Parkersburg police.

"When we got there, neighbors said he (Lewis) was acting strange," Collins said.

Lewis went into the back bedroom when police arrived and would not respond to officers.

"We spent a lengthy amount of time trying to make contact with him, but then we heard a gunshot," Collins said. 

When they determined it was safe, officers entered the bedroom and found Lewis with a bullet wound to the head.

The coroner was on scene, but Collins said the investigation was complete for the police. 

"There was nothing suspicious on our end," Collins said.

Police are still looking into the ownership of the gun.

Lewis pleaded guilty an hour after his trial was set to start on Sept. 17 and the prosecutor recommended a prison sentence of four years on charges of felonious assault, theft and forgery.

The court allowed him 10 days to "get his affairs in order," as requested by his defense attorney, Kirk McVay. The prosecution did not object to the request.

Lewis was accused of shooting his wife, Connie, in the abdomen with a handgun while she slept. He was also accused of taking checks from his wife's purse while she was in the hospital recovering and making the checks out to himself for cash, according to Messenger reporting.

The night before his trial was set to begin, Lewis surrendered to the sheriff's office and was charged with possessing a weapon while under indictment after it was reported that he had allegedly purchased a firearm in West Virginia, law enforcement said.

In the plea agreement, the prosecution stated they would not pursue other charges against Lewis.

"I did not want to let him out," Blackburn said on Tuesday.

"It was reported to (Assistant County Prosecutor Michael) Prisley he didn't have the firearm. The victim wanted the case resolved without trial and that is what it took to accomplish that."

Since Lewis had surrendered the night before and the court had allowed him to be out on bond for over a year, Blackburn "expected … this would not happen."