Adrian Lewis, on the left, hears his fate in court and Shanitia Eure-Lewis appears inset, on the right, in an image shared by law enforcement as she went missing. (Screengrab via WVEC; Newport News Police Department)
A Virginia man will almost certainly die in prison for the summer 2022 murder of his wife – whose body has never been recovered.
Shanitia Eure-Lewis, 35, was last seen alive on July 17, 2022, according to the Newport News Police Department. The next day, she was reported missing and said to be “in extreme danger” by the Virginia State Police. The day after that, her husband was charged.
Adrian Lewis, 50, was found guilty by jurors in Newport News on one count of murder in the first degree on Sept. 28 – after around 2 1/2 hours of deliberations. The jury returned a not guilty verdict on one lesser count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
“I understand the jury’s decision,” Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Valerie Spencer Muth told Hampton-based ABC affiliate WVEC after the verdict came down. “They obviously felt like there was some reasonable doubt in that. But they came back with guilt on the first-degree murder [charge] so the Commonwealth is very satisfied.”
While the state couldn’t prove exactly how Eure-Lewis died, they were able to convince her husband’s peers of his guilt and culpability.
Evidence at trial revealed a severely jealous and hypocritical man.
Witnesses told the court that the since-condemned husband told friends he thought his wife was cheating on him – and he had publicly threatened to kill her several times over her suspected infidelity – while leading an adulterous, yearslong double-life of his own.
The wife’s suspected liaisons, however, were never substantiated. In this case, the accusation became something of a sidelong admission.
“She was part of our 8 o’clock worship,” Gethsemane Baptist Church Pastor Dwight Riddick told WVEC in the immediate aftermath of the beloved parishioner’s disappearance. “As I understand it, she left to go home to get her two sons and bring them back to the next worship service but did not return to the next worship service.”
Last Tuesday, Riddick testified in court about the defendant’s alleged anger toward his wife – even after she was gone.
The pastor told the jury that sometime after Eure-Lewis went missing, he got a phone call from her husband. During that call, Riddick said, Lewis said of his wife: “I just hope she rots in hell.”
Mitchell Foreman, a church friend of the couple’s, said that around two weeks before Eure-Lewis went missing, she expressed a desire to obtain a divorce, according to a courtroom report by Norfolk-based CBS affiliate WTKR. A few days after that, Lewis rationalized the looming breakup by insisting that she must be cheating on him and allegedly told Foreman: “I can’t let her walk away from this.”
Tiffany Foreman, Mitchell Foreman’s wife, also testified on Tuesday that Eure-Lewis, her friend of 30-plus years, had told her she was going to get a divorce from Lewis five days before she vanished.
Making his own cheating suspicions a matter of public record was allegedly nothing new for Lewis. In a December 2022 pretrial hearing, Mitchell Foreman testified that during a 2021 Christmas party, the defendant told several people he would kill his wife if she ever cheated on him, according to Portsmouth-based NBC affiliate WAVY.
Also, at that holiday gathering, Lewis allegedly admitted to his adulterous ways. Mitchell Foreman said he lectured the accused killer.
“You can’t expect her to be faithful if you’re cheating on her,” the mutual friend said he told the defendant. Lewis allegedly replied: “I’m from the street, and I handle things the street way.”
In the hours after his wife went missing, Lewis bought a plane ticket to Jamaica. He was arrested just as he was about to board a plane.
Newport News Circuit Court Judge Bryant Sugg oversaw the trial that began Sept. 19.
The trial was the first murder case ever tried in the jurisdiction without a body, Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn told WTKR.
Lewis is slated to be sentenced on Jan. 19, 2024.
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