'She won't wake up'

Berrien County Sheriff's Deputy Angela Biggert testifies Wednesday in Berrien County Trial Court in the case against John Lewis, who is accused of killing his wife in their Niles Township home in August 2017. A replica of the room where deputies found Lewis and his deceased wife has been erected in the courtroom.

ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputies entering 1429 Lawndale Avenue in Niles Township on Aug. 13, 2017, couldn’t hear any human voices until they started to make their way down the basement stairs. 

“All I heard was a voice saying, ‘She won’t wake up,’ over and over again,” Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Abigail Pifer said Wednesday in Berrien County Trial Court. 

Pifer, along with Deputies Jessica Frucci and Angela Baggett, testified on the second day in the trial of John Lewis. 

Lewis, 50, is facing a charge of first-degree premeditated murder. He is accused of killing his wife, Carla Lewis, 55, in the basement of their Niles Township home. 

The three deputies were the first to arrive on scene after John Lewis made a 911 call saying that he and his wife had been shot and robbed. 

Each testified how they cleared the house together and how they discovered Lewis and his wife in a marijuana grow room in the back of the basement. 

The prosecution erected a full replica of the grow room in the court room and entered it into evidence. 

Judge Gordon Hosbein denied a request from Berrien Assistant Prosecutor Gerald Vigansky, after Lewis’ attorney Jolene Weiner-Vatter objected, to allow people to pretend to be John and Carla.

So, Vigansky asked each deputy to demonstrate on the replica how they entered the room and what they saw. 

Baggett said there were two subjects low to the ground when she pushed the door open and John Lewis was instructed to crawl out. Once he was detained and taken outside, she began to do CPR on Carla Lewis, who was slumped over in the corner. 

Once medics arrived, she exited the house and interviewed John Lewis while he was being checked out by other medics. That interview, which was recorded by a microphone on Baggett’s uniform, was played for the jury.

Baggett said Lewis told her, while upset and asking about his wife, that two large black men came into the grow room while they were down there and just started shooting. He also said his wife’s car was missing.

All testified that Lewis was obviously upset, but not crying. 

Detective Rick Biggart, with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, testified at the end of the day Wednesday about when he interviewed Lewis immediately after the incident at the Niles Law Enforcement Complex. 

Biggart said Lewis was moaning the whole time leading up to the interview, but then was calm throughout it. He said Lewis was very descriptive of the alleged suspects for what had just occurred. 

Biggart said during the interview he got a text from another detective with some information about a man, Justin Hicks, turning in some ammunition to the police. When he brought up Hicks’ name to Lewis, Biggart said Lewis’ demeanor changed and he requested to see a lawyer. 

Hicks testified during a preliminary hearing in September 2017 and is expected to testify again during the trial. 

Biggart’s testimony will continue this morning at 9 a.m., when it is expected Vigansky will show the jury a video of Biggart’s interview with Lewis. 

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman