A loophole from the 1970s means an Upstate New York man convicted of murder is out of prison and the indictment dismissed.

A New York man convicted of murder and sentenced to 22 years to life behind bars is now free from prison due to a technicality.

Terrence Lewis was released from a maximum-security prison in Seneca County, New York last week.

Rochester, New York Murder


In May 2015, 29-year-old Johnny Washington was shot multiple times during a drive-by shooting on Sixth Street and Bay Street in the City of Rochester.

Lewis was the driver of the car.

“It is disappointing that Terrence Lewis not only chose to ruin his own life, but took the life of Johnny Washington without regard for human life, or the lives of Johnny’s
friends and family,” Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said in 2018.

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In May 2018, Lewis was convicted of Washington's murder and sentenced to 22 years to life in prison a few months later.

Prison interior. Jail cells, dark background. 3d illustration

“In May 2015, Terrence Lewis made the senseless, yet deliberate decision to take part in the murder of Johnny Washington,” Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Kyle Steinebach said after Lewis was sentenced. “Thanks to the excellent investigation by the Rochester Police Department, Terrence Lewis may spend the rest of his life behind bars, away from this community.

Released From Prison

A New York Judge just released Lewis from prison and his indictment was dismissed because he was held at the wrong prison, the Associated Press reports.


“It’s a tough, tough pill to swallow that someone gets a walk on a murder conviction because of a transport error,” Steinebach told the New York Post. "How it happened, I don’t know. But someone made a mistake that means that someone who murdered somebody in our community is going to get off on a conviction."

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Judge Stephen Miller ruled that officials violated the federal Interstate Agreement on Detainer's Law when he was sent back to a federal federal prison in Pennsylvania, where he was serving time for a previous drug conviction and waiting for trial in his murder case in New York.

According to the AP, the Interstate Agreement says:

A prisoner charged with an unrelated crime in another jurisdiction must be held and tried in that jurisdiction before being returned to the place of their original imprisonment, or else the case in the other jurisdiction must be dismissed.

Lewis should have been kept in a prison in New York while waiting for his trial. Because he was sent back to prison in Pennsylvania before the New York trial was complete, the law requires the murder conviction to be tossed out.

Dark Prison Cell, Open Gate

"The harsh reality is that despite a jury of 12 members of our community determining, after hearing all of the evidence set before them, that defendant is guilty of the murder of Johnny C. Washington, this administrative jail decision made based on jail population and timing, not the law, unequivocally entitles defendant to dismissal of the murder in the second-degree indictment with prejudice under the exacting requirements of the anti-shuttling provisions of the IAD," Miller's decision states.

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