Tyrone Lewis sentenced to life in prison for murdering Lenny Harris

Lenny Harris was found dead in 2012 after being missing for weeks. Photo: Harris family

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJLA) - The man convicted in the murder of Lenny Harris, the prominent Virginia community activist, continued to insist he was framed while being sentenced Friday to life in prison.

Known for the “One Love Festival" he hosted in this Maryland park every year to help children in need, Lenny Harris was beloved in Alexandria. His brother says the feeling was mutual.

"He was a great fighter for the community," said Harold Harris. "He loved Alexandria, he loved his family, he loved his wife, he loved his child, Maya. He's gonna be sorely missed."

Del Ray resident Lenny Harris, 53, vanished in September 2011, and it was months before police found his body deep in an abandoned well in Ft. Washington. It turns out that he had been shot in the head, and that 28-year-old Tyrone Lewis was his killer.

Tyrone Lewis, who was convicted Sept. 10 in the murder of Harris during a botched kidnapping and robbery, was sentenced on Friday to life without parole plus 120 years for his role in the crime.

An autopsy found that Harris was shot to death. Three people were originally arrested in connection with the murder: Lewis, Linwood Johnson and Ivan Newman. Johnson later told police after his arrest that robbery was the motive in Harris' murder.

During Friday's sentencing, Lewis insisted that he was framed and "railroaded" by his counterparts. Johnson previously pleaded guilty for his role in the slaying.

"My heart goes out to the family but I've lost my life for something I didn't do," he said.

Despite his pleas, Harris' wife, Deborah, said in court that "the pain has cut so keep (that she) can't tell if her heart is still beating."

Lewis, who is also charged with two additional unrelated murders during botched robberies, offered no apologies during the sentencing hearing. Instead, after hearing himself described as a predator among predators, he claimed innocence and stated: “I’m about creating lives.”

"When he wakes up in the morning and when he goes to sleep at night, he's gotta live with whatever he did," said Harold Harris.

Harris’ loved ones say their focus is on remembering Lenny, not hating Lewis. They wear bracelets in his honor, and that park where the "One Love Festival" was held has been named "Lenny Harris Memorial Fields" as of last week by city council.

"Lenny was a person who loved life and he wanted everybody to do good," said Sandra Walton, Harris' sister.