With a dozen members of her victim’s family and many of her own kin appearing in a Jefferson Parish courtroom, an eastern New Orleans woman was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday (Aug. 4), for orchestrating an armed robbery that ended with a fatal shooting two years ago.
Markeisha Lewis, 25, on Monday admitted to her role in the June 27, 2014, death of a man she knew, Demone Robinson, 24, whom she set up to be robbed of a pistol and Xanax pills in a meeting she arranged in the 1000 block of Inca Drive.
She pleaded guilty to manslaughter, conspiracy to possess Xanax and obstruction of justice. In accepting the plea, Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court delayed the sentencing to Thursday, when three of Robinson’s family members provided impact testimony.
“You’re looking like you don’t care, but we care,” Robinson’s mother Letrina Robinson testified, speaking to the shackled Lewis sitting directly across the courtroom in the jury box. “You don’t know how much I loved my son. I fought to get you to this point where you are right now.”
Lewis and Robinson knew each other, the family members said. Yet she conceived the plan to rob him of his pistol and Xanax, according to court documents. Through a series of text messages, she set up the meeting in the 1000 block of Inca Drive in Harvey, near where Robinson lived.
“My brother trusted you, well enough for you to have his number,” his sister Ashley Robinson said in impact testimony. She thanked “those of you who brought justice for my brother.” And she called it “a senseless and poorly planned crime” that robbed the Robinson family of their loved one.
Lewis enlisted two teenagers, Raynell Whittaker, then 17, and Everis Hilton, then 16, to help carry out the plan, according to the court records. As she and Whittaker met with Robinson on the street, Lewis called out, “We about to get crunk,” her signal for the armed Hilton to commence the robbery, the records show.
Instead, Hilton emerged and opened fire, killing Robinson. Hilton later told Whittaker that Robinson was removing a pistol from his pants, leading to the shooting. “I had to. He was going to kill me,” according to court records.
Afterward, Lewis deleted the incriminating text messages from her phone and removed the firearms – actions that led to the obstruction of justice charge.
Family members said Robinson had four daughters. One of them was at their nearby home when her father left to meet with Lewis, the family members said. That daughter had been waiting for her father to return, they said.
In addition to her testimony, Letrina Robinson prepared a statement that was read aloud by her sister, ArKemi Robinson. In it, she accused Lewis of not caring about Robinson’s family when she concocted and carried out the robbery.
“You were only worried about your mission being accomplished,” Letrina Robinson wrote. “Today, you’re sitting in this courtroom, in this box, facing Demone’s family, something you didn’t think would ever happen.”
She said she did not believe Lewis should ever “walk the streets” as a free person again. “We did get justice for my son, because that’s all that matters,” she wrote. She told Lewis to consider her parting thoughts while she’s being transported to a state prison to begin her 25-year sentence.
“While you’re riding, ask yourself: Was it worth it?” Letrina Robinson wrote. “Enjoy your years.”
After her testimony, Letrina Robinson returned to the courtroom gallery where her family sat and began sobbing. A family member carried her from the courtroom.
Just days before the homicide, Hilton and Whittaker robbed a man of his cell phone in New Orleans’ Irish Channel. They pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court and were serving 10-year prison sentences for that crime when a Jefferson Parish grand jury handed up an indictment charging them in Robinson’s death.
Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Michael Smith prosecuted the case.