EASTON, Pennsylvania | Man convicted of a series of Northampton County robberies, including the shooting death of a cellphone shop employee, seeks a new trial after his accomplice recanted his incriminating statements in a murder case in Berks County.

A Northampton County jury convicted Gregory Lewis Jr. in April 2019 of 56 counts relating to a series of thefts from a cell phone store. Jurors have found the 30-year-old guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of Michael Davis, a Verizon Lewis store employee and his co-defendant, Vaughn Felix, kidnapped in order to later rob the store.

Authorities said Davis refused to cooperate and was shot in the face. Felix admitted to the shooting and pleaded guilty.

Following his conviction in Northampton County, Lewis was to be tried in Berks County for his role in a deadly home invasion in December 2016 in Reading. Authorities allege Lewis and Felix broke into a house on Fairview Street, shot Dominic Colona, ​​and shot and paralyzed Colona’s pregnant sister. She lost her unborn child.

In March, Lewis’s trial was only one day old when it ended after Felix appeared on the stand but refused to testify against his alleged accomplice. The Berks County District Attorney’s Office chose not to proceed with the case given the life sentence Lewis had already received in Northampton County.

Felix, meanwhile, has withdrawn his guilty plea and is due to attend a Feb. 24 status hearing in Berks County Court.

Not only did Felix refuse to testify, but he also claimed in open court that his cooperation was forced and that Lewis was innocent. The revelation prompted Lewis to seek a new trial in Northampton County based on what the defense considers newly discovered evidence.

In June, defense attorney Robert Eyer filed a petition in Northampton County Court, requesting a new trial. Based on Felix’s testimony in Berks County, it is believed that all of the statements he made involving Lewis in the Northampton County crimes “were compelled or otherwise unintentional and false statements,” according to court documents.

Lewis had previously appealed his case to Pennsylvania Superior Court, which has since returned the case to county court for a hearing on the newly discovered evidence. His challenge in Superior Court is temporarily suspended until the county court renders its decision.

Earlier this month, the defense and prosecution held a programming conference before Northampton County Judge Paula Roscioli.

The judge said scheduling a hearing would be a challenge given the ongoing pandemic and the transportation of prisoners. Felix and Lewis cannot be housed in the same prison, Roscioli said, and it is possible to hold a videoconference hearing with each man at a separate facility.

The court will need to give three weeks’ notice to set up a video hearing. The judge asked if Lewis could demand that he and Felix both be in person given that this is a hearing and not a jury trial.

Roscioli asked the defense to speak with Lewis to find out whether he wanted to hold the hearing via video conference or wait until it could be done in person.

Lewis’s defense attorney Eyer declined to comment on the next hearing.

Deputy Chief Attorney General Patricia Mulqueen continued the case.

“The jury accepted Vaughn Felix’s statements as true, as well as the mountain of evidence that corroborated his statements,” Mulqueen said. “We stand by the conviction of the jury. “

Lewis initially appealed his conviction on a host of court challenges, including that the court allowed the introduction of cellphone tapes and other evidence obtained without a valid search warrant and that the court prejudiced to Lewis by allowing the reference to the trial to his nickname “Trig”.

In April, his record was amended to include a handwritten statement from Felix, who claims his lawyers deceived him and scared him into making a statement against Lewis. Felix alleges he only testified because his defense attorney told him he faced the death penalty at trial. He claims Lewis was not at the scene of any of the crimes and did not participate, according to court records.

Before the trial, the district attorney’s office accused Lewis of threatening to kill Felix if he cooperated with the prosecution. He was also accused of threatening to have the prosecutor killed.

According to the trial transcript of the Berks County case, Felix had barely taken the witness stand before he began to proclaim Lewis’s innocence.

Berks County Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Brown began by asking Felix if he understood he was in court to testify on behalf of the prosecution.

“I would like to say something relevant. They scared me, ”Felix said, according to court records. “They made me believe I could lose my life. I was illegally compelled to make a statement. Therefore, everything that was said on December 4, 2017, by this co-accused, Vaughn Felix, was a lie.

Felix went on to say that the man sitting at the defense table – Lewis – was innocent.

Brown asked Felix if he remembered a plea deal with prosecutors that provided for life in prison in return for his testimony. Brown said Felix’s failure to testify truthfully could lead the district attorney’s office to seek the death penalty.

Court records show Felix testified that he was “illegally coerced” into making a taped statement in which he confessed to his role in the home invasion.

“Do you remember making a recorded statement to the police regarding (these crimes)? Brown said.

“It was a fabricated story,” Felix replied.

Brown reminded Felix that his plea agreement would be revoked and that he would go to trial if he didn’t testify honestly. The prosecution then asked again what happened on December 2, 2016.

– I just told you, said Felix.

“Who were you with at 1736 Fairview St. in Reading, Berks County, PA that day?” Brown said.

“I have no knowledge. I have nothing more to say, ”replied Felix. “Can I go back? “

The court was adjourned for the day shortly thereafter.