MOULTRIE — Bobby Lewis took the stand in his own defense for more than four hours Wednesday, going over again and again in painstaking detail the events leading up to the death of his girlfriend, Martha Fritts.

“That disease she had — it turned a demon loose, but that wasn’t Martha. Martha was a sweetheart,” Lewis said, referring to Fritts’ alleged affliction with bipolar disorder.

At one point after some discussion with the judge, the defense produced reenactment photos of Lewis’ account with Lewis illustrating where he was and Lewis’ current girlfriend portraying Fritts.

Lewis asserted that during a struggle, Fritts pulled the weapon, allegedly a sawed off shotgun, toward her causing it to fire and hit her square in the forehead at a distance of nine inches from the muzzle. Just prior to the single shot, Lewis was on his knees on a waterbed fending off Fritts as she, standing, raised an ornamental dagger as if she were preparing to stab him. He was clutching the 14” weapon to his body and grabbed at Fritts’ right arm, which was holding the knife, but wound up hitting it. He lost his balance and fell forward to catch himself on the waterbed, he said. Fritts crouched down and grabbed the gun Lewis was trying to keep from her, he said, and then she snatched it and since his middle finger was in the trigger guard, the gun fired.

Lewis said he was trying to protect himself from Fritts’ attacks without harming her. He said he didn’t intend to shoot her.

“I had no desire ever to see any harm come to her. I felt sorry for Martha. I liked Martha,” he said. And in a quieter voice, added, “I would have never harmed her in any way. ... In that state of mind, Martha would kill you.”

Fritts was petite woman; at the time, Lewis said, although he was seven inches taller, he was frail as a result of permanent injuries from a nasty motorcycle accident. He said he struggled against Fritts’ strength, adrenaline-charged during one of her “spells.”

Assistant District Attorney Brian McDaniel asked if Lewis had ever given a different account of that night. He said no before the lawyers left him on the stand and the jury in the box for an extended, awkward length of time as they debated legal contentions in the judge’s chambers. McDaniel didn’t refer to another account for the remainder of his cross examination.

The prosecution rested at the beginning of the day. Before Lewis’ testimony, a procession of pharmacists testified that Fritts was prescribed an array of psychiatric medications and appeared to be doctor shopping for such addictive drugs as oxycodone, Valium-type drugs and chloral hydrate. Lewis’ attorneys lined the defense table with about 10 prescription medication bottles. Lewis denied in the prosecution’s cross-examination that he ever took any of Fritts’ medications.

Lewis recounted his relationship with Fritts. He felt sorry for her, he said, and for the most part would give her a place to stay and take her to the doctor and pharmacy when she needed.

About a month before her death, her condition worsened after the death of her brother, the defendant testified. It was also around that time that Lewis cooled off the romance, he said, because he realized he couldn’t build a life with Fritts with her condition.

In May, Lewis had locked his door to bar her entrance, he testified, and as she broke in the front door window, he went out the back door to take two guns to his mother’s house across the road to keep them away from Fritts. Fritts gained entrance into the mobile home and when she saw Lewis, came after him, he said. His mother saw them from her yard and met them almost halfway where Fritts tried to grab the guns, he said. They managed to keep her away from the guns, and Lewis’ mother took her aside to calm her down, he said. Lewis called 911, but by the time a deputy arrived, Fritts had taken a large dose of chloral hydrate syrup, a sleep inducer, and went through the woods in the stifling heat of the day. An official search party eventually found her passed out. She was hospitalized for several days after, he said.

Again in testimony, the defense pointed out that Fritts had served prison time in Florida for shooting and killing her husband in 1978.

Trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. The defense is expected to rest today.

React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0

Recommended for you