A 33-year-oLd inmate already in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, who was facing first -degree-murder charges in Sebastian County Circuit Court, was a recipient of a plea deal today that will add fifteen years to his existing sentences for crimes out of Crawford and Sebastian counties.
Branford Antwan Lewis, who was arrested in July of 2021 in the murder of Herbert Brown of Fort Smith, was returned from the ADC late last month to stand trial in the case.
According to information from the Sebastian County Circuit Court office, Lewis appeared just after 1:00 p.m. today and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Linda Ward uing announced she was pursuing habitual offender status and not prosecuting the Murder in the First-Degree count.
Originally arrested in the death of Brown, Lewis also faced theft of property, residential burglary, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, contempt charges, and was a fugitive from out of state.
It's not completely clear why the murder charge was dropped, but Lewis was sentenced to 15 years imposed and an additional 25 years suspended imposition of sentence for the remainder of the crimes from that arrest. The Circuit Court record shows possession of firearms by certain persons as being the one of the crimes in today's conviction.
Lewis is already incarcerated at the East Arkansas Region Unit in Brickeys, Arkansas on four felony charges. He's serving a 72 -month sentence out of Crawford County for possession of firearms by certain persons and a 120-month concurrent sentence out of Sebastian County for theft of property, possession of controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia charges.
The fifteen-year sentence as he received today will be served in conjunction with his existing sentences in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
Lewis was arrested in connection with the death of 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 runni9ng to a fast food restaurant a few blocks from the murder scene a short time after the shots were fired.
Lewis was arrested by the Van Buren Police department and held in Crawford County before being transferred to Sebastian County.