As Jesse Lewis sat in the dock at provincial court in St. John's Monday, listening to the judge read him his newest charges, a supporter of one of his alleged victims sat in the gallery giving Lewis the finger.
Lewis, who's been in custody since he was arrested last week, had a number of new charges added to the 25 he originally faced. Among them were charges allegedly earned earlier in the morning at Her Majesty's Penitentiary, after he reportedly assaulted three correctional officers.
"I don't want to waste any time. I'd like to plead not guilty to everything right now and set this over for trial," Lewis, 21, told Judge Lois Skanes, earning scoffs from a section of the gallery.
"It's all good, if I get five years, I'd take it today," he said to the prosecutor as sheriffs prepared to escort him from the courtroom after his proceedings were finished.
An outburst in the courtroom by the woman who had given Lewis the finger caused Skanes to request extra sheriffs in the room.
"Start me, bitch," the woman was heard saying to a member of Lewis's family.
Lewis is suspected of a carjacking, along with dangerous driving and several other serious incidents, in a series of events that stretched across several kilometres
It began in Avondale early on the morning of Oct. 17, when the RCMP received a report that a male driver in a stolen vehicle was speeding and had sideswiped a vehicle. The man later left a gas station after not paying and sped to St. John’s with a male passenger, the RCMP stated in a news release.
Both the RNC and Holyrood RCMP attempted to find the suspect as he sped in a red Kia Sedona from Colliers to St. John’s, causing several accidents. According to the RCMP, the driver attempted to ram three RNC patrol cars and had a number of near-misses with other vehicles in various parts of the city, and two confirmed collisions.
RNC officers spotted the vehicle several times throughout Wednesday morning around metro, but the man was driving too fast and evaded police several times.
At one point, the suspect rammed the Sedona into a marked RNC car near Columbus Drive and drove away, the RNC said. He is also suspected in a hit-and-run on Ropewalk Lane.
The Sedona was seen going through the intersection at Thorburn Road and O'Leary Avenue, causing a three-vehicle accident, but no injuries. It then continued up Thorburn Road near Austin Street, where it crashed into a utility pole — breaking it off and bringing down the wire.
The Sedona was then abandoned.
Witnesses told The Telegram that a male passenger got out of the vehicle and screamed, “Help me!” He claimed the driver would not let him out of the vehicle.
Police say the driver then ran to a nearby residence and carjacked a parked red Pontiac van with a grandmother and three children, all under the age of 3, aboard. The woman told members of the media last week that the man had a screwdriver and demanded they get out of the vehicle.
"He had a weapon. We didn't know if he was going to turn that on either one of us at any time. But I was not leaving my grandbabies. There was nothing he could've done to me," the woman said.
Lewis's charges now include 28 charges laid in connection with the events of Oct. 17 — including multiple charges of hit and run, vehicle theft, assaulting police officers with vehicles, forcible confinement, theft of gas and beer, assaults, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, mischief by damaging the window of a residence, threatening a police officer and more — four charges laid in connection with the alleged prison assaults, and others, alleged to have happened Oct. 16. Police say Lewis threatened the owner of a Marysvale bar with the intent to commit robbery.
Lewis will make his next appearance on the charges via video on Nov. 8. In the meantime, he'll be in Supreme Court Oct. 29, where he will be sentenced on a charge of driving while disqualified and breaching court orders in relation to an incident in April 2017.
Late last month, Lewis was acquitted of aggravated assault and weapons charges that had been laid after he shot a man who had forced his way into Lewis's home. He was convicted, however, of the driving charge after he fled the scene.
Lewis asked to be released from custody to await his sentencing hearing on those charges. The judge agreed. He had been released just over two weeks when the most recent incidents allegedly happened.
– With files from Rosie Mullaley