A Van Buren man already facing multiple years in prison on various cRiminal convictions saw an additional 15 years tagged on to his prison sentence after a plea deal to wrap up the court proceedings from a July 2021 murder in Fort Smith.
Branford Antoine Lewis, who was given an additional 18 and 1/2 years on an existing sentence in early February, returned to Sebastian County Circuit Court on Thursday to see the additional decade and a half stretch tacked on to his existing sentences.
(Today in Fort Smith had mistakenly reported back in early February that Lewis had avoided any time on the murder charges with a plea deal on battery in the first degree on a police officer and two counts of furnishing a private item. That was incorrect and his court appearances to close out the proceedings in the death of Herbert Brown had been rescheduled for Thursday.)
Lewis appeared in court on Thursday with his attorney Tyler Benson. Deputy prosecuting attorney Linda Ward announced she was pursuing habitual offender status after dropping prosecution on the Murder in the First Degree charge.. Lewis was given 15 years to run concurrently with his current sentences with an additional 25 years suspended in the new plea.
The additional 15-year stretch will run concurrently with his current sentences out of Sebastian and Crawford counties. Overall, Lewis has been sentenced to 124 1/2 years with all the concurrent charges and his parole eligible date in now August 8, 2041.
Lewis was initially arrested in connection with the death of Herbert Brown, who was found on July 9th 2021 in a gray 2007 Chevy Impala parked at 923 Raleigh Street in Fort Smith. Witnesses at the scene told the responding officer they spotted a man wearing a black shirt and black pants running from the area of the shots.
After speaking with other witnesses at the scene, officers learned that the description given by the witness matched what other witnesses said Lewis had been wearing that night. Those witnesses also told police that Lewis was "waving a gun".
Lewis was also connected with the crime when he was seen on video surveillance running to a fast-food restaurant a few blocks from the murder scene a short time after the shots were fired.