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CONVICTED OF MURDER, TEEN THREATENS JURORS, FAMILIES

A man convicted of killing two teenagers immediately turned to the jury and shouted, "I'm going to kill all of you and your families."

Rommel Lewis, 19, began throwing papers around the defense table Thursday as the jury foreman blurted out "guilty." He called the foreman a derogatory name, issued his threat to the panel and was hustled away by court deputies.

The jury deliberated for 90 minutes before finding Lewis guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of William Barnwell, 18, and Eric Jenkins, 19, who were robbed and shot as they shared a pizza outside a relative's home on April 28, 2000.

Lewis could get up to 50 years in prison at sentencing on Oct. 15. He already drew a 50-year sentence earlier this year for an unrelated robbery and shooting spree that left one victim paralyzed.

The triggerman, Benjamin Switzer, 19, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder in June. Lewis was held criminally accountable because he took part in the fatal robbery.

Calls to foreign countries
lead to charges against 3

SYRACUSE (AP) -- Three janitors at University Hospital have been charged with felony grand larceny after making more than $50,000 in calls to foreign countries and around the United States from hospital phones.

Hospital officials had questioned phone bills for several years, police spokesman, Sgt. Tom Connellan, said Friday.

Since 1998, they had seen calls to the United Kingdom, Germany, Ghana, the Netherlands and various parts of the United States, but could not determine who was responsible, he said.

"It took a long time to find out who was doing it," Connellan said. "They traced the calls to certain phones and set up video surveillance."

Police said the women, all Syracuse residents, told detectives that a former employee at the hospital had given them the authorization access code for long-distance calls and they'd been using it without permission since then.

Charged were Sarah Apenteng, 22; Bridget Busia, 36; and Yaa Serwaah Adjei, 39.

U.S. Education Department
probes bias complaints

SCHENECTADY (AP) -- The U.S. Education Department is investigating a complaint against the city school district alleging that minority students are disproportionately enrolled in low-level classes and are treated differently in disciplinary matters.

Education Department spokesman Rodger Murphey said a complaint was filed with the department's Office for Civil Rights on June 26. The complaint alleges violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination in organizations that receive federal funds. Murphey said he could not reveal who filed the complaint because of privacy rules.

Superintendent John Falco said the school district is working on a response to the complaint, which also alleges that the retention rate for minority employees is lower than for whites.

The federal department sent the school district a letter Sept. 1 asking for data in response to the allegations. It also plans to visit the school district, Murphey said.

Nearly half the students suspended from city schools in 1999-2000 were black, although black students made up only 30 percent of the district's enrollment that year.

Teen accused of killing man
with his car after dispute

SYRACUSE (AP) -- An 18-year-old was arrested Friday, accused of intentionally running down another man with his car.

Police initially investigated the death of DeShaun Winstead as a hit-and-run, but learned that Winstead argued with the driver, Brandon Bigtree, shortly before that, police said.

"The two individuals had a dispute, and because of that dispute, Mr. Bigtree felt the need to strike the victim with his automobile," said Sgt. Joe Sweeny, a police spokesman.

Bigtree, of suburban Nedrow, was charged with manslaughter and jailed pending arraignment, Sweeny said.

Winstead, 19, a father of two, was hit by a car about 1 a.m. Thursday while crossing a downtown street. Nearby residents heard it and found Winstead unconscious near a fire hydrant.

Winstead was taken to University Hospital, where he died about an hour later, Sweeny said.

Construction workers told investigators they saw a dark-colored, midsized car speeding down the street before the crash, said Sgt. Tom Connellan. Police collected shattered headlight fragments at the scene as evidence, he said.

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