Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 29, 2012

Jurors convict Ryan in murder of his neighbor

By Mike Fletcher
Tribune crime reporter

Kokomo — Jurors deliberating 2 1/2 hours Friday evening in finding Bradley Ryan guilty of murdering and robbing his 85-year-old neighbor, Lonnie Lewis last August.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Betty Louise Langley, the daughter of Lewis said after the verdicts were read shortly after 6 p.m. “It’s been over a year and we really needed closure.”

Longtime neighbors of Lewis, Paul and May Epperson, also were glad to see justice done for their friend.

“Lonnie didn’t have to die like that,” said Mary as they left the Courthouse with Langley.

Deputies were called to Lewis’ home at 1104 Miller St., at about 12:30 p.m. Aug. 15, 2011, after family members found Lewis unconscious and unresponsive.

A pathologist testified Lewis died of blunt force trauma to the head sometime on the evening of Aug. 13.

Throughout the four-day trial in Howard Superior Court 4, Prosecutor Mark McCann told jurors that Ryan went to Lewis’ house after Lewis returned from a night at the Eagles, hit him in the head with a blunt object and stole a check he later wrote and cashed for $1,500.

The jury of 14 including two alternates listened to four days of testimony consisting of 20 witnesses for the state and three witnesses for the defense.

Pointing at a photo of a smiling Lonnie Lewis, McCann instructed jurors during his closing argument to think about the victim.

“He does not have a voice,” McCann said. “I’m his voice, the state of Indiana and the police are his voice. Now, you are the voice of Mr. Lewis.”

McCann told jurors that even though this is a circumstantial case after looking at the evidence as a whole they should find him guilty on both charges.

McCann reminded jurors of prior testimony that Ryan had told his former girlfriend Tiffany Kubica that he found Lewis’ body early Monday and that he never called 911 because he was afraid he would be accused of something.

“He goes with gloves on into his best friend’s house,” said McCann. “Why not call 911 when his best friend his laying dead on the floor. Is that an act of an innocent man? I don’t think so. His actions after the crime is not consistent with an innocent man. He’s a cold-blooded murder. This was a cold, calculated murder and robbery of Mr. Lewis.”

Throughout the trial Ryan’s attorney Andy Vandenbosch said his client his innocent and that he did have the opportunity to commit this crime.

“There is no physical evidence,” Vandenbosch told jurors in his closing argument. “There is no murder weapon, no eyewitness, no fingerprints and no DNA that implicates Bradley Ryan.”

That time line is a crucial element in the case.

According to testimony, Lewis went to have dinner at the Eagles that night and left the club at 9 p.m. McCann estimated through the testimony of Capt. Greg Hargrove that it takes about seven-to-eight minutes to get from the Eagles to Lewis’ home.

Phone records show that Ryan called Kubica’s house at 9:20 p.m. During her testimony, Kubica said she left the house after receiving the call and drove straight to Ryan’s house, which is about five-to-10 minutes away.

Frank Ryan, Bradley Ryan’s father, testified Friday that his son was at his house Saturday and that Kubica picked him up. Frank Ryan told jurors he thought it was around 9:30 p.m. when Tiffany picked him up.

McCann believed Bradley Ryan influenced his father’s testimony. Under questioning by McCann, Frank said they talked to each other several times since Lewis’ death and that his son told him not to talk about the case.

“Do you remember your son yelling at you and saying, ‘stop talking about the case old man,’?” McCann asked Frank Ryan.

In a low tone. Frank Ryan answered “yes.”

Bradley Ryan did not testify on his behalf.

Sentencing is set for 10:30 a.m. Oct. 26. Ryan could face up to 65 years in prison for murder and up to 50 years in prison on the Class A felony robbery.