Local News

Judge cuts prison time in UNC football players' assault

Posted November 21, 2008 11:52 a.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2008 4:54 p.m. EST

— An Orange County judge on Friday lopped several years off the prison sentence he had handed down this week against a Durham man who was convicted of tying up and robbing three University of North Carolina football players last year.

Michael Troy Lewis, 33, was convicted Tuesday of two counts each of felony conspiracy and first-degree kidnapping and one count each of common law robbery and assault on a government official. He was acquitted of a second count of assault on a government official.

The charges stemmed from a Dec. 16, 2007, incident in which a UNC player invited Lewis and two women to a Chapel Hill apartment after the player had been drinking for the night. At the apartment, the player and two teammates were tied up with belts, ties and stereo speaker wires while Lewis robbed the apartment.

One of the players said a woman fondled him while he was tied up and that Lewis held a knife to his throat when he resisted.

After a jury found Lewis guilty, Superior Court Judge Carl Fox sentenced him to 371 months in prison, which is almost 31 years behind bars.

After the sentencing, Fox said Friday, he spoke with the father of one of the football players. The man, who happens to be a defense attorney, said he thought the sentence was excessive, noting that he had hoped Lewis would get between 13 and 16 years in prison.

Fox said he thought about the matter for a couple of days and decided to consolidate some of the charges against Lewis instead of stacking sentences on top of each other.

"Sometimes, when you’re sentencing someone in months, you don’t really realize how many years (that translates to)," he said Friday. "It was not my intention to have Mr Lewis in prison until he’s 60 or 65 years old. There’s a point when basically we’re punishing the taxpayers as much as Mr. Lewis (by keeping him in prison)."

Lewis will now serve consecutive 93- to 129-month sentences on the conspiracy and kidnapping charges, as well as 13 to 16 months for robbery and 150 days for assault. He also will receive credit for the 338 days spent in jail awaiting trial.

The change cuts his sentence from almost 31 years to between 17 and 23¼ years.

Lewis also will have to reimburse the state for nearly $7,000 in legal fees upon his release, and Fox recommended that he participate in available educational programs in prison and that he take part in a work-release program when eligible.

"Truthfully, it’s the first time I’ve ever resentenced somebody in almost four years on the bench," Fox said.

Lewis thanked Fox for reconsidering the sentence.

"When I left here (Tuesday), I kept asking God, 'Why?'” he said. “It made me turn to God more than what I had been turning. Thank you for resentencing me and giving me another life as far as spiritually.”

Monique Jenice Taylor, 29, is charged with one count each of criminal conspiracy, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual offense and resisting a public officer in the case. She will be tried separately.

Tnikia Monta Washington, 30, is charged with resisting a public officer in the case.