Suspect not fighting return

MIAMI - With his hands shackled to a chain around his waist, the man accused of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Chuck Cassidy stepped forward before a closed-circuit prison camera yesterday to say he would not oppose his extradition to Pennsylvania on the charge of murder.

The legal proceeding took less than five minutes before Judge Fred Seraphin, whose courtroom in a nearby building was linked to the Miami-Dade County jail by video.

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John Lewis, who identified himselfas Jordan Lewis at his extraditionhearing, is shown on his way to the Miami-Dade County jail Tuesday.

The 21-year-old defendant, who gave his name as Jordan Lewis and also is known as John Lewis, is accused of gunning down Cassidy after the veteran patrolman walked in on a robbery of a North Philadelphia doughnut shop eight days ago.

Lewis, who wore a red jumpsuit signifying his status as among the most dangerous of prisoners - ordinary prisoners wear orange - had been sought in an intense nationwide hunt until Miami police, acting on a tip, arrested him at a homeless shelter Tuesday.

Last night, he was held in the ninth-floor psychiatric unit of the jail under "suicide precautionary measures," prison spokeswoman Janelle Hall said. The decision was based on an assessment of his emotional state.

Lewis confessed in interviews with Philadelphia detectives sent to Florida to take him back, officials said, then confirmed the confession to reporters as he was led in handcuffs to a prison van Tuesday. He also apologized to Cassidy's family, saying, "I never meant anything to happen like this."

Yesterday, Lewis was mostly monosyllabic and appeared eager to put the hearing behind him.

"I waive," he said, leaning into the microphone after Seraphin explained that he had the right to oppose the extradition or waive it.

Lewis did take a moment to add that he would decline to be interviewed any further by police without legal counsel.

"I can't talk without a lawyer now, but I am waiving," Lewis said.

Spectators in the small courtroom - where a mounted plaque reads, "We who labor here seek only the truth" - included Philadelphia Detective Sgt. William Britt of the Homicide Division, head of the five-man contingent charged with completing the investigation in Florida and taking Lewis back to Philadelphia.

It was not clear whether Lewis would return on a commercial flight or on one arranged by the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service. In any case, said Britt, Lewis will not return before tomorrow.

The fugitive warrant on which Lewis was arrested lists his birth date as July 5, 1986; his height as 6 feet; his weight as 270 pounds; and his permanent address on West Roosevelt Boulevard in North Philadelphia.

Although Lewis gave no Social Security number Monday when he was admitted to the Miami Rescue Mission shelter for men, one is listed on the arrest affidavit, which notes the alias John Lewis.

It was a worker at the shelter who recognized Lewis as a wanted man and tipped off police.

Miami Police Chief John Timoney, a former Philadelphia police commissioner, praised the rapid response of his officers and said the killing of a police officer was exceptionally wrenching.

"It's not an exaggeration to say it's an assault on society," said Timoney, who has been mentioned as a possible successor to retiring Philadelphia Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson. "People may complain about police when they get summonses, but at the end of the day, there is some truth to the thin blue line, and when a cop takes a hit like that, people get righteously upset."

In a courthouse corridor after the hearing, Britt was pleased with the outcome but also restrained because Cassidy's funeral in Philadelphia was happening at almost the same time.

"We are satisfied, but we still lost Officer Cassidy," he said. "It's a sad, sad day. Nothing can make that change."

 


Contact staff writer Michael Matza at 215-854-2541 or mmatza@phillynews.com.