“You Just Had to Know Him”

Youshana Lewis approached the stand wearing dark blue jeans and a pale button-down top. Her hair tied up in a ponytail, she looked down for a moment before pulling out stacks of notepad paper and a photograph of a young man posing for a yearbook picture. With the photo in position, she locked eyes with the judge and began to speak.

“I will never know the kind of man my son would become,” Lewis, 41, said in Queens County Supreme Court on Sept. 8. “Kevin Lewis was my only child, and I cannot forget my child will never be able to pursue his dreams of becoming a football player. My son had his whole life in front of him until the killer came to an event he was not invited to.”

The killer was Kevin Weekes, and Lewis was speaking at his sentencing nearly two years after Weekes, 22, had engaged in a fight on Nov. 8, 2014, outside Vision’s Banquet Hall in Laurelton, Queens. That fight ended with Kevin Lewis dead and two others injured. Weekes had attempted to enter a baby shower at the banquet hall. After being turned away, he was stabbed during a fist fight. After that incident, he initially drove away from the scene. Weekes, in a sober state of mind, according to court statements, then came back, driving the car onto the sidewalk of the hall and crashing into a crowd of people.

Kevin Lewis, son of Youshana Lewis, was a victim of Kevin Weekes' reckless driving.
Kevin Lewis was killed on Nov. 8, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of Youshana Lewis)

Kevin Lewis, then 20, was brutally torn apart. Weekes ran over him and dragged his body under his Nissan vehicle for at least a block before fleeing the car. Lewis died on the scene. Two other women on the scene also suffered injuries.

“My oldest brother called me and told me to come home,” Lewis said in an interview several weeks after the sentencing. When she arrived back at her home in Springfield Gardens, Queens that night, her heart sank.

“You can’t describe that feeling,” Lewis said. “It’s like what most parents think, the worst feeling in the world. I just hollered and screamed.”

At the sentencing, Lewis told Judge Gregory Lasak how Kevin’s life had come to a “complete end” and said she envied the fact that Weekes’ mother is still able to physically visit her son.

“She can talk to her son on the phone and send him a care package as he adjusts to his new lifestyle,” Lewis said. “Judge, I was left to pick up the pieces of my life without my purpose and inspiration.”

During the sentencing, Weekes, hands cuffed behind his back and his head bent towards the floor, expressed sorrow for the grief he had caused to Lewis.

“Sorry for the pain I have caused,” Weekes said. “I was scared, and panicked, and was in a state of mind I had never been in before. I had no knowledge of him being hurt. I am truly sorry.”

Weekes did not respond to a letter requesting comment.

At the sentencing, Spiro Ferris, Weekes’ defense attorney, told the judge that Weekes is a “personable and well-mannered young man.” Since he had no prior criminal record and was unaware that Lewis was under his vehicle, Ferris requested that Weekes be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Peter Lomp, a senior assistant district attorney, instead pushed for 32 years — twenty-two years for murder in the second degree and an additional 10 years for assault in the first degree.

“He was a man,” Lomp said. “He was no kid. College-educated, good family around him, really no excuses. . . . He had no criminal record but sure chose a dramatic way to change that.”

Lasak sentenced Weekes to 18 years in jail. Lewis had asked that “the killer,” as she called him, pay for his wrongdoings. She was hoping for a longer sentence.

“Of course, I’m not happy,” Lewis said in an interview. “He hit three and literally killed my son. His actions were despicable. He drove on a sidewalk going in the wrong direction. I could understand that he doesn’t have a record. My whole thing was he kept referring to himself as the victim. Victim of what?”

Lewis was nervous about speaking to the judge at the sentencing, she said.

“Peter [Lomp] asked if I would be willing to do it,” Lewis said. “I figure I was here from the get go, I might as well just say what I have to say so I can move on. So that was just my thinking.”

She said she simply just wanted to get her point across regardless of whether or not she might shed a tear.

Her son attended Queens Community College and was hoping to get his grade point average up so that he could transfer to another school, Lewis said. His interests included video programming and football. He played on both the community football team and his school’s team.

“Some memories fade away, some things you’ll remember,” Lewis said. “Every now and then, the TV is turned on [to] the football game and I kind of giggle to myself because I know that’s something he would watch. You take it one day at a time.”

Lewis copes with her loss by celebrating her son and his life, creating scrapbooks of pictures and news articles related to him.

“He was very friendly, outgoing, he was kind of like funny,” Lewis said. “Yeah, he was very funny. He made friends with everybody, he was an easy person to talk to. . . . You just had to know him.”