Jury suggests 53 years in prison for Windsor murderer

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011


SUFFOLK—TyQuan Lewis’ family would have been watching him walk across the stage at Lakeland High School next month.

Instead, they watched in a courtroom Monday as a jury recommended a 53-year prison sentence for the man convicted of murdering him last year.

Dontaz Latray Wilkerson, 20, of Windsor was found guilty last week of 10 charges stemming from the murder of Lewis, whose life was cut short on Walnut Street on Aug. 1, 2010.

Jeanette Lewis, TyQuan’s mother, remembered her son on the witness stand for his infectious smile and his aspirations for his football career.

“His smile was his signature,” she said, reading from a written statement to make it easier to keep her composure. “TyQuan was looking forward to becoming a star football player.”

Family and friends of Lewis had filled most of the seats in the courtroom throughout the two-day trial last week. They mostly remained stoic, but some had to step out while the jury viewed autopsy photos.

“It’s still very devastating and still hard to deal with,” said Jeanette Lewis, whose mother just died a couple weeks ago.

Lewis was killed in the

early-morning hours of

Aug. 1, 2010, after a party on Manning Road. After he broke up a fight between Wilkerson and another man, Lewis and some friends left and went to McDonald’s and some other places throughout downtown Suffolk.

Eventually, there was some communication that led Lewis and Wilkerson to the same place on Walnut Street, near Booker T. Washington Elementary School, supposedly to fight.

However, Wilkerson brought a gun to the fistfight, prosecutor Will Jamerson said in court last week. He fired 15 rounds at Lewis and three other teens. One bullet hit Lewis in the jaw and lodged in the back of his neck, causing fatal injuries to major arteries.

Remarkably, none of Lewis’ three companions was injured.

During the sentencing hearing Monday, Richard Davis, Wilkerson’s defense attorney, asked for the 40-year mandatory minimum sentence.

But prosecutors asked for the heaviest sentence possible — life in prison.

“We don’t do it lightly,” Jamerson said, noting prior convictions in Suffolk and Newport News for violence and weapons charges. “He’d been playing around for a couple years and finally did it. He finally got to the point Jeanette Lewis can’t see her son graduate next month. He finally got to the point she buried her son before she buried her mother.”

Jamerson also told the jury that Wilkerson had taken a class after one of his prior convictions titled “The Dangers of Firearms.”

“If it wasn’t so tragic, it almost would be humorous,” Jamerson said.

After the jury imposed the 53-year prison sentence — which included 25 years for the murder charge — Wilkerson immediately pleaded guilty to another charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which had not been included with the other charges during the trial.

The judge will impose a sentence Aug. 3.