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Why hire the Tampa murder team of attorneys Ken Lewis and Ron Pliego to defend you on a murder charge?   

  • Former chief prosecutor of homicide division for Orlando and Osceola Counties

  • Ken Lewis-former Sarasota prosecutor 

  • Over 50 murder trials 

  • Over 200 felony trials

  • Experience in all scientific aspects of a criminal homicide trial 

  • Death penalty trial experience

  • Stand your ground hearing experience

  • Combined 40+ years of legal experience

Ken Lewis, Esq. 

Ron Pliego, Esq. 

Choosing a murder criminal defense attorney is the most important decision of your life!

When it comes to defending a murder charge in Sarasota there is no substitute for experience. Ken Lewis and Ron Pliego know Sarasota murder defense. Attorney Ken Lewis, who started his legal career as a Sarasota prosecutor, was a homicide prosecutor for 8 years and was the former chief homicide prosecutor for Orange and Osceola Counties. Attorney Ken Lewis has tried numerous high profile Central Florida murder cases such as the Cady Way killings. Ken Lewis has had experience with all murder charges pursuant to Florida Statute 782.04 and has experience in all aspects of murder litigation. Just a handful of lawyers in Florida have had over 50 murder trials. If you are convicted of first degree murder in Florida the only legal sentence is life in prison with no parole. Are you willing to take that chance?  Attorney Ron Pliego is a former prosecutor in Broward and Brevard counties and has been practicing in Tampa for over 18 years. 

We represent murder clients in the following Tampa area counties:  Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota

Murder in Florida

MURDER — FIRST DEGREE Premeditated  or First Degree Felony Murder § 782.04(1)(a), Florida Statutes

There are two ways a person may commit First Degree Murder. One is known as First Degree Premeditated Murder and the other is known as First Degree Felony Murder.

To prove the crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1.         (Victim)is dead.

2.         The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).

3.         There was a premeditated killing of (victim).

To prove the crime of First Degree Felony Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1.         (Victim) is dead.

2a         While engaged in the commission of a[n] (felony alleged), [(defendant)] or [(defendant’s) accomplice] caused the death of(victim), or

b.         While engaged in the attempt to commit a[n] (felony alleged), [(defendant)] or [(defendant’s)accomplice] caused the death of (victim), or

c.         While escaping from the immediate scene after [committing] [attempting to commit] a[n] (felony alleged), [(defendant)]  or [(defendant’s)accomplice] caused the death of (victim).

3a.       (Defendant)was the person who actually killed(victim), or

b.         (Victim)was killed by a person other than (defendant); but both (defendant)and the person who killed (victim)were principals in the commission of (crime alleged).

In order to convict the defendant of First Degree Felony Murder, it is not necessary for the State to prove that the defendant had a premeditated design or intent to kill.

           Did you know?  In certain instances shooting someone multiple times is not always first degree murder. 

Premeditation” is the essential element that distinguishes first-degree murder from second-degree murder. Green v. State, 715 So.2d 940, 943 (Fla. 1998). As explained by the Florida Supreme Court, premeditation “is not just the intent to kill; it is ‘a fully-formed conscious purpose to kill. This purpose may be formed a moment before the act but must exist a sufficient length of time to permit reflection as to the nature of the act to be committed and the probable result of that act.’” Evans v. State, 177 So.3d 1219, 1240 (Fla. 2015)(quoting Bolin v. State, 117 So.3d 728, 738 (Fla. 2013)). Premeditation can be inferred from facts that include: the nature of the weapon used; the presence or absence of adequate provocation, previous difficulties between the parties; the manner in which the homicide was committed; and/or the nature and the manner of the wounds inflicted. Where the evidence presented by the Statefails to exclude a reasonable hypothesis that the homicide occurred other than by premeditaed design, a verdict of first-degree murder cannot be sustained. Green, 715 So.2d at 944.


Barnes v. State, 218 So.3d 500 (5th DCA 2017)

In the instant case, the only evidence that would appear to support an inference that the murder was premediated is the fact that the victim was shot multiple times. However, the uncontroverted testimony was that the gunshots were fired in rapid succession. We conclude that the evidence was insufficient to prove premeditation. The fact that a defendant inflicts more than one potentially fatal injury on a victim does not, in and of itself, establish premeditation. For example, in Kirkland v. State, 684 So.2d 732 (Fla. 1996), the evidence established that the victim suffered “a severe neck wound” that consisted of several slashes, causing her to bleed to death. 684 So.2d at 734–35. In addition to the neck wound, there was evidence that the victim suffered other injuries resulting from blunt trauma. 735. There was evidence that both a knife and a walking cane had been used in the attack. Id.In finding that the State'sevidence was insufficient to establish premeditation, the supreme court stated:

First and foremost, there was no suggestion that Kirkland exhibited, mentioned, or even possessed an intent to kill the victim at any time prior to the actual homicide. Second, there were no witnesses to the events immediately preceding the homicide. Third, there was no evidence suggesting that Kirkland made special arrangements to obtain a murder weapon in advance of the homicide.

MURDER — SECOND DEGREE § 782.04(2), Florida Statutes

To prove the crime of Second Degree Murder, the State must prove the following 3 elements beyond reasonable doubt

1.         (Victim)is dead.

2.         The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).

3.         There was an unlawful killing of (victim)by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.

An act is “imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind” if it is an act or series of acts that:

1.         a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and

2.         is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and

3.         is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.

In order to convict of Second Degree Murder, it is not necessary for the State to prove the defendant had an intent to cause death.

The Tampa murder team has experience handling

We value and respect your privacy and we will keep any information

strictly confidential.

Our first priority is get you a bond hearing at the earliest possible date. The quicker we get you out of jail, the sooner you can help assist us in building your defense. Don't assume you cannot get a bond just because it is a murder charge. Ken Lewis has gotten bond for clients charged with first degree murder. 

Hiring the Tampa murder team offers you, the client, several advantages that can and will make a difference in the outcome of your case. An experienced homicide attorney can provide you with distinct advantages at every critical stage of a criminal prosecution: 1) the filing stage 2) pretrial motions 3) negotiating a resolution and 4) trial. Former prosecutor Ken Lewis has had over 50 murder trials and over 200 felony jury trials including robbery, drug trafficking, burglary, and sexual battery.

1)      The filing or indictment stage

An experienced homicide attorney, particularly a former prosecutor, is going to have increased ability to recognize weaknesses in a case at the earliest point possible. Bringing those weaknesses to the attention of the prosecutor may cause no charges or less serious charges to be filed. Either way, you win. Attorney Ken Lewis has handled over 100 murder cases and has presented numerous murder cases to the grand jury for review and indictment.   

2)     Pretrial motions

An experienced attorney is far more qualified through experience to recognize critical pretrial motions that may be overlooked by someone with less experience. These motions can lead to the dismissal of your case or the suppression of evidence. As a former prosecutor Ken Lewis has dealt with hundreds of pretrial motions. Ken Lewis has litigated numerous Stand Your Ground hearings. 

3)     Negotiating a resolution

An experienced defense attorney is going to be far more likely to negotiate a more favorable resolution because the prosecutor is far less likely to take a case to trial against an experienced defense attorney he respects. Prosecutors are often judged on their conviction rates and rarely want to take chances on trying a case they think they can lose. 

4)     Trial

Ken Lewis is one of the most experienced, successful, and respected murder trial attorneys in all of Central Florida. 

Trial is never the place to take a chance on a less experienced attorney. A trial involves command of the evidence code, the ability to exploit weaknesses in the state’s case, and trial skills such as effective cross examination and detailed knowledge of forensic science. These essential trial skills are only mastered through experience in the courtroom. Compromising any of these skills can and will make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

Prior to hiring a lawyer, you must ask the question, how many felony jury trials have you had? Follow up that question by asking if they have had success at trial with the kind of case you are hiring them for. Murder cases almost always involve some form of scientific evidence such as: DNA evidence, forensic pathology, cellphone technology, gunshot residue, computer forensics, footprints, blood spatter and serology. If you are hiring an attorney who does not have extensive experience in these areas you are doing yourself a disservice. Attorney Ken Lewis has cross examined and worked with nationally known experts in all areas of forensic science.

If there is any error in the forensic evidence, or areas of forensic evidence the state did not utilize and should have, and your attorney's lack of experience or knowledge doesn’t exploit it, you have made a potentially critical hiring mistake. Failure in a single one of these areas can make a difference in whether you walk away a free man or spend up to the rest of your life in prison. Can you afford to take that chance?  Call The Lewis Law Firm now at 407-706-8300 for a free consultation at either our Tampa or Longwood/Orlando office.

If you are incarcerated we will come visit you.     


Attorneys Ken Lewis and Ron Pliego know forensic science!

Why that matters in a murder case:  

An attorney that knows forensice science can poke holes in the State's case that can lead to reasonable doubt. DNA evidencem forensic pathology, cellphone technology, gunshot residue, computer forensics, footprints, blood spatter and serology results can make or break your case. As a former chief of the State Attorney's Office homicide unit and as a sex crimes prosecutor for almost 5 years Ken Lewis has dealth with all types of scientific evidence and has cross examined some of the leading forensic scientists in their field. Prosecutors routinely rely on various experts hoping to persuade the jury, but far too often, these experts are less than qualified, have used questionable methods or have reached faulty conclusions. If you are hiring an attorney who does not have extensive experience in forensic science you are doing yourself a disservice. Where many attorneys might read a forensic report and move forward under the presumption that everything is accurate, I break down this evidence thoroughly to bolster my clients' cases. I have the knowledge and experience in scientific method to break down this evidence, and find errors that can potentially alter the outcome of your case.  

Our knowledge of forensics benefits those charged with murder in a variety of ways:

  • DNA evidence: This is perhaps the most critical piece of forensic evidence in the modern criminal trial. Everything from murder to petty theft often comes down to DNA evidence left at the scene of the crime.

  • Toxicology reports: Toxicology comes into play to determine the levels of intoxicants in suspects' or victims' systems, and toxicology comes into play in other criminal cases as well.

  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS): This forensic method is used commonly in drug cases as well as in OVI cases involving blood or urine tests. It is used to detect and identify substances as well as quantify the amount of drug or substance present.

  • Forensic pathology: Understanding the medical examiner's report and the medical conclusions is vital to successful defense of murder cases. We ask the "why" and "how" questions so that I can present an effective defense at trial. I will consult with the medical examiner who did the autopsy as well as obtain an independent review and/or get second opinions where called upon to do so. Ken Lewis has cross examined the top forensic pathologists including the world renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht and shaken baby expert John Plunkett.  

  • Abusive head trauma and multiple fractures: Successful defense of these types of cases requires a solid understanding of the medical processes involved, including things such as brain hemorrhages, dural rebleeds, contrecoup effect, venous thrombosis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, rickets, classic metaphyseal lesions and more. Ken Lewis has tried multiple child homicides and has worked with numerous expert nuerologists regarding shaken baby syndrome. 

  • Fingerprints: We have worked closely with fingerprint experts in many cases. We are familiar with the importance of obtaining a second opinion when it comes to "subjective" forensic sciences such as fingerprints and handwriting analysis.

  • Gunshot residue and distance determination: These tests are often instrumental in eliminating a suspect or establishing self defense.  

These are just a few of the important aspects of forensics we handle in our practice. Our experience and knowledge provide benefit in understanding complex scientific evidence, cross-examination of expert witnesses and other important aspects of criminal defense.

We challenge everything. Working with a private investigator and a team of forensic experts, We leave no stone unturned. If there is any error in the forensic evidence, We will find it.

 *Do not even consider hiring an attorney on a murder case without asking them how many murder trials they have tried. Very few lawyers in Florida have tried more murder cases than attorney Ken Lewis. 

Tampa Office

3201 W Tampa Bay Blvd.

Tampa, Fl. 33607

Orlando Office

1220 Commerce Park Drive, Suite 207

Longwood, Fl. 32779

Free consultations-24 hour service! 

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