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Prosecutors: Conviction of Diamond Lewis ends 'reign of terror'

The conviction of Diamond Lewis Friday on multiple charges of murder, attempted murder and assault ended what prosecutors called "a reign of terror" in the teenager's East Side neighborhood.

Before he was arrested on Jan. 26, Lewis's penchant for drive-by and ambush shootings made him an enemy and target of almost every gang in his part of Buffalo – including, in the end, his own Keystone crew.

But even within the tight-knit gang culture in which disputes are settled with "street justice," not in court, investigators from Buffalo Police and the District Attorney's Office pulled together enough evidence to see Lewis convicted of 18 felonies following a week-long nonjury trial in Erie County Court.

Judge Kenneth F. Case pronounced Lewis guilty of second degree murder for the shooting deaths of David Skipper, 22, in October 2014 and Alonzo Green, 18, in June 2015. Friends and family of Lewis and of his victims sat quietly in the courtroom as the verdict was announced, and Lewis remained expressionless.

Case also found Lewis guilty of the attempted murders of Leroy Favors Jr., Chaniah Truehart, Dominique Toney, Raequan Reed, Lavonna Gaines and Anthony Douglas, all bystanders who were shot in three separate incidents.

Lewis also was convicted on four counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 50 years to life in prison when he returns to court Dec. 8. Lewis is now 19 years old.

The number of charges only scratches the surface of the violence associated with Lewis's life. Investigators believe he became "a shooter" when he was 17, after two friends of his – Kristopher Pride and Michael Smith Jr. – were killed in 2013.

Over the next two years, Lewis himself was shot three times and stabbed once. One witness in his trial also indicated Lewis may be responsible for at least one more homicide in September 2015, and investigators said they couldn't refute that possibility.

What was particularly disturbing was that most people shot by Lewis were not his intended targets.

Chaniah Truehart was 18 years old, giving her brother a lift, when she stopped her car at the intersection of Playter and Kent streets in August 2015 and was caught in the crossfire between Lewis and another young man. She still has a bullet near her spine.

Lavonna Gaines was 13 and walking to a corner store with her grandmother when Lewis opened fire on a group of young men hanging around outside the store. Gaines was hit in the leg, had to use a wheelchair while she recovered and still feels the effects of the injury.

And Anthony Douglas, 25, was left permanently paralyzed by the bullet that hit him in the spine when  Lewis opened fire on a group of men playing dice on the street near a house on Warren Street Douglas was visiting.

That was the shooting that left Alonzo Scott, 18, dead. Scott had only recently come to Buffalo, after growing up in the South with his grandmother following his own father's murder.

Reed and Favors also were shot in that drive-by, but their injuries were less serious. The man prosecutors believe Lewis may have been targeting – the same man involved in the incident where Trueheart was hit – was uninjured.

Five of the surviving victims testified during the trial and two of them, Reed and Douglas, identified Lewis as the gunman. Other testimony came from friends of Lewis who said he bragged to them about the murders. Lewis himself was heard of recordings of jail telephone calls, in a panic over fear police would find one of his guns in an impounded vehicle.

And two weapons were recovered that ballistics connected to the shootings and that were linked to Lewis through DNA.

Lewis was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys John Patrick Feroleto, Eugene T. Partridge III and Meghan E. Leydecker. The cases were investigated by  BPD Homicide Detectives Scott Malec, Mark White and Christopher Sterlace.

 This is a breaking news story. More to come.
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