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Man sentenced to life for killing Kansas police captain

November 30, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old man was sentenced Friday to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years for fatally shooting a Kansas police captain.

Jamall Lewis had pleaded guilty in the death of Kansas City, Kansas, police Capt. Robert Melton, who was shot as he sat in his patrol car in July 2016.

Lewis was originally charged with capital murder but entered his plea in October to first-degree felony murder in a surprise move that upset Melton’s family, fellow officers and city officials.

Lewis also pleaded guilty to related charges of aggravated assault and shooting into an unoccupied dwelling. District Judge Wes Griffin sentenced Lewis to a total of 22 months in jail for those charges and ordered the sentences to run consecutively.

Lewis had no comment before his sentencing, The Kansas City Star reported .

A capital murder charge carries a potential sentence of death or life in prison without parole. But because the capital murder and felony murder charges were filed as alternatives to each other, Lewis was able to plead guilty to the less serious crimes without prosecutors agreeing to it.

After the plea was announced, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree was strongly criticized for his handling of the case and an ethics complaint was filed against him.

Members of Melton’s family, police and community leaders issued statements in October saying they were upset by the plea and because Dupree didn’t tell anyone before Lewis pleaded.

Dupree said at the time there was no plea agreement and Lewis could legally choose to plead guilty to the alternative charge.

Melton, 46, was killed on July 19, 2016, while officers were searching for suspects in a drive-by shooting. Lewis admitted he was driving the car involved in the shooting but fled on foot when it wrecked.

Melton spotted Lewis and tried to block him in with his unmarked patrol car. Lewis admitted knowing that the car was an unmarked police car when he drew a gun and fired several times into the vehicle.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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