Jury mulls degree of guilt in officer's murder

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - November 15, 2009

Defendant John Lewis entered a surprise guilty plea Thursday to a general murder count in the Halloween 2007 shooting death of 54-year-old Officer Chuck Cassidy. Jurors who had been picked for his trial must now decide whether he committed first- or second-degree murder.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Lewis would face either life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Prosecutors on Friday called victims of other robberies in an effort to portray Lewis as a violent robber who became a murderer and deserves to be executed. The defense has asserted that Lewis panicked and fired when he saw the officer.

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