Hit man for Memphis drug lord gets life sentences
By Beth Warren
Posted June 14, 2013 at 11:23 a.m., updated June 14, 2013 at 6:28 p.m.
A convicted hit man who peppered a drug-ring enemy with five bullets in front of alarmed patrons inside a Kirby Parkway wings restaurant was sentenced Friday to three life sentences.
Martin “M” Lewis, 35, was convicted by a jury more than a year ago for the 2007 murder of Mario McNeil, an enemy of drug lord and multimillionaire Craig Petties.
A federal judge sentenced him to three life sentences plus five years, to run concurrently in a federal prison where parole is not an option.
U.S. Dist. Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays granted a request by defense attorney Marty McAfee to recommend a prison close to Memphis so Lewis’ sister can visit him. However, the judge said the decision on placement is made by the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Lewis’ sister sat in the courtroom Friday, her husband by her side, wiping tears. She declined to comment outside court.
The judge also allowed her to visit her brother after the hearing.
Lucy Turner — whose son was kidnapped, tortured and killed by members of the Petties organization in 2006 — also attended the hearing and said afterward the special request for Lewis’ relatives doesn’t merit consideration.
“I don’t think they should be close to their families so they can visit them,” said Turner, a retired West Memphis police and fire dispatcher . “I can’t talk to my baby.”
Lewis showed little reaction to his punishment of life in prison, mandatory under federal law for conspiring with others to carry out McNeil’s contract killing. His cousin, Clinton “Goldie” Lewis, 37, is serving a life sentence for hiring Martin Lewis as the gunman. Both also were convicted of other charges historically used for members of the Mafia, including racketeering conspiracy and money laundering.
Mays said he agreed with the defense that Martin Lewis had a rough childhood, growing up in poverty and without his parents after his father killed his mother.
However, Mays’ said, Lewis’ criminal history began in his youth and earned him a classification as a career criminal for convictions that include assaulting an officer, theft, domestic violence and drug dealing.
Lewis served as hit men for Petties, who grew up in an impoverished South Memphis neighborhood, then became a wealthy and deadly drug lord connected to a ruthless Mexican cartel.
More than three dozen members of Petties organization have been prosecuted for crimes related to running one of the largest and bloodiest cocaine-trafficking rings in Tennessee history. Petties pleaded guilty during a secret hearing in 2009 to 19 charges, including four murders, and is awaiting sentencing.
U.S. Atty. Ed Stanton issued a statement Friday blaming Martin Lewis for “ruthless criminal acts” and affirming his office’s commitment to securing lengthy sentences for “those who insist on creating an atmosphere of violence and sustaining fear in our neighborhoods.”
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