Harlem H. Lewis III was sentenced to death Tuesday, in the Christmas Eve 2012 shooting of Bellaire Police Corporal Jimmie Norman and Good Samaritan Terry Taylor.
The jury deliberated for 12 hours over two days before deciding on Lewis’ punishment. The panel had convicted him of capital murder July 18, after deliberating for about two hours. The jury had two choices: to sentence Lewis to death, or to life in prison without parole.
Lewis was convicted of killing Norman and Taylor, a businessman who came to the officer’s aid, after a routine traffic stop gone horribly wrong. Norman had stopped Lewis at the intersection of Jessamine and Mapleridge, in Bellaire. But Lewis drove off and a high-speed chase began through residential streets in Bellaire and Houston. After Lewis side-swiped another vehicle, that driver joined in the pursuit. Lewis finally stopped his black Honda Civic in the parking lot of Taylor’s body shop, at Bellaire Blvd. and Alder.
As Norman tried to pull Lewis out of the car, Lewis fired a gun and shot the officer. A split second later, Lewis shot Taylor, who had come out of his business to help the officer.
Standing before Norman’s blood-stained uniform, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson told jurors: “The blood on this uniform is an abomination.”
“It takes a special kind of person to put the barrel of a gun to the head of a uniformed police officer and shoot,” Anderson said.
Lawyers for Lewis asked jurors to spare the life of the 23-year-old.
A dashboard camera video from Norman’s patrol car — which captured the entire shooting — was shown to the jury several times during the two-week trial.
The video also showed how other police officers arrived in the middle of the confrontation and shot at a fleeing Lewis 23 times, hitting him twice. Lewis was hospitalized for about two weeks after the shooting, and then was transferred to the Harris County jail.
Norman’s death was a stunning blow to the Bellaire Police Department. He is the city’s only police officer to die in the line of duty. Norman, 53, had served with the close-knit Bellaire Police Department for 24 years. He is survived by his widow, Mitzie Norman, and two adult children.
Taylor, 66, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, owned the Maaco auto body shop at 5625 Bellaire Blvd. Taylor is survived by his widow, Judy Taylor, and their children.