A Homestead man accused of killing a father and son in a hit-and-run crash made his first appearance in court Monday — and blurted out a damning admission.
“My car went out of control!” Earl Lewis cried as he appeared, via closed-circuit TV, from a West Miami-Dade jail.
He kept talking — but what he said was unknown because the microphone to the Miami courtroom miles away was cut off. But his statement placing himself at the scene can now be used in the criminal case against him as prosecutors prepare to try Lewis for leaving the scene of an accident involving deaths.
Either way, the 32-year-old Lewis likely won’t be getting out of jail anytime soon.
A Miami-Dade judge on Monday ordered Lewis held on a $600,000 bond, an amount he acknowledged he can’t pay.
Lewis is accused of killing Cesar Eduardo Cepeda, 34, and his father, Jose Eduardo Cepeda Luna, 57, and then stealing the older man’s car to escape. Prosecutors have also charged Lewis with driving with a suspended license and car theft.
The crash happened around 5 a.m. Feb. 9 when Cepeda lost control of his pickup truck on the Dolphin Expressway, State Road 836, just east of Florida’s Turnpike. He crashed into a guardrail.
Cepeda was OK. He called his father, who immediately drove to help his son.
As the two were standing on the side of the highway, the driver of a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro veered off the road and plowed into the father and son. Police believe Lewis ditched the Camaro, got into Luna’s Chevy Equinox and drove off.
The Equinox was found abandoned near Homestead. Shortly after the crash, the woman who owns the Camaro called police to report it stolen.
DNA was the key evidence in building a case against Lewis, according to an arrest warrant.
Lewis’ genetic material was found on an airbag that deployed inside the crashed Camaro — and also blood found inside the stolen Equinox.
His criminal record includes an arrest in 2009 for attempted murder that was dropped, and convictions for ID fraud and marijuana possession. He has an extensive driving-infraction record and his license had been suspended indefinitely, prosecutor Griska Mena told the judge.
When arrested, Lewis also told a trooper that he should have fled to Jamaica, where he has family, Mena said.
“The state has significant concerns about Mr. Lewis voluntarily staying in the jurisdiction to face the consequences of his actions,” Mena said.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer agreed, raising the bond amount and ordering Lewis to wear a GPS ankle monitor if he does come up with money to leave jail.