Murderer set free on early release caught in Florida after carjacking, murdering one in East Orange

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POLK COUNTY, FL – After spending thirty years in prison in New Jersey, James Lewis was set free by New Jersey under an early release program. Then, he killed another man after being freed in East Orange during a carjacking incident.

Lewis, now a two-time murderer fled and eluded police since September, but he didn’t do his research, landing himself in the jurisdiction of one of America’s toughest crime fighters, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

On Tuesday morning, October 19, 2021, deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man on a New Jersey warrant for murder, kidnapping, carjacking, and weapons charges.

51-year old James Lewis was taken into custody at a residence at 220 Kinghill Court SE in Winter Haven.


According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Lewis fatally shot a man on September 18, 2021 in East Orange, New Jersey during a carjacking. He then zip-tied the victim’s girlfriend and stole the vehicle with her in it, before crashing a short time later.

James Lewis was previously convicted for homicide in a 1989 case in which he was also convicted for robbery and possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison but only served 30 years in combined jail and prison time.

“He spent only 30 years in prison when he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for homicide, robbery, and possession of a weapon. In less than two years of being released early, he murdered again. The reason we have prisons is to keep violent and repeat criminals away from victims and innocent people in the community,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.

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Following Lewis’ arrest Tuesday, a search warrant was served at the residence where he was arrested, and evidence linked to the East Orange investigation was recovered.