Driver without valid license who killed 12-year-old indicted in drive-by shooting while out on bond

Posted at 7:42 PM, May 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-11 19:44:12-04

A Cleveland woman charged with killing a 12-year-old boy with her car and then leaving the scene while driving without a license was arrested and charged in a drive-by shooting while out on bond. 

Starlesha Lewis, 19, was charged with felonious assault and criminal damaging and endangerment in an April 3 drive-by shooting incident, according to an indictment filed May 9. 

Cleveland police records revealed that Lewis was found in possession of a gun after an apparent drive-by shooting at the corner of East 65th Street and Hough.  

The victim’s car had three bullet holes, the windows were broken, mirrors shattered, multiple dents and scratches were evident.

She was indicted in Cleveland Municipal Court on April 27 and bound over to Cuyahoga County Court. She has been charged with Felonious Assault and Criminal Damaging.  

At the time, Lewis was out on bond for vehicular homicide and failure to stop after an accidentcharges stemming from the Aug. 10, 2016, death of Ameer Mitchell. 

Multiple witnesses watched Lewis strike Mitchell with her car while he was playing with friends in front of his home in East Cleveland. She did not stop. 

Mitchell died in the hospital and Lewis was charged days later.

A News 5 investigation uncovered that Lewis never had a valid drivers license to begin with. She bonded out of jail on Aug. 15 and according to pictures posted on social media, continued driving without a license. 

After News 5 sent the photos to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, a detective was assigned to the case. Investigators were able to prove that Starlesha had been driving without a license and driving recklessly

Prosecutors asked for her bond to be revoked in a hearing on April 24, but the court decided instead to put Lewis on house arrest, apparently unaware of the drive-by shooting incident from April 3. 

Criminal law expert and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich told News 5 the case highlights a breakdown in communication between law enforcement agencies and the court in Cuyahoga County. 

“Part of what this case shows is how fractured our police and court system is,” Witmer-Rich said. 

He explained that even though she was cited by three separate police departments while out on bond, information is not easily shared from department to department. 

“Someone who continues to exhibit disregard for the law right now, if they continue to do it in different cities, even in the same county, it’s very difficult for the police department and the courts to realize what’s happening in other areas,” he said.  

Lewis' bond was set for $100,000 and she will be arraigned in county court on Friday morning. 

Her felonious assault charge includes a 5-year drive-by specification, which is a mandatory term of incarceration if found guilty.