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Los Feliz murder suspect had criminal history, drug problems

September 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The actor suspected of murdering his landlady before jumping or falling to his own death in Los Feliz earlier this week has had past troubles with the law.

He was an up-and-coming actor with a reoccurring role on the hit TV show "Sons of Anarchy," but Johnny Lewis's personal life was disintegrating.

Earlier this year, he was convicted of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon in two separate incidents. According to his probation report, Lewis hit two people with a bottle. The report goes on to say that Lewis was suicidal and mentally disturbed.

The report, written in May, goes on to say: "This officer is very concerned for the well-being of not only the community but that of the defendant. It is apparent to this officer that the defendant suffers from some form of chemical dependency, mental health issue and a lack of permanent housing."

Lewis had been out of jail for less than a week when he allegedly went on a violent rampage, killing his 81-year-old landlady, then falling to his death.

It happened Wednesday morning at a house in Los Feliz. Police say Lewis had been renting a room there. Investigators say they don't know why he strangled Catherine Davis before attacking a worker and a neighbor next door. By the time police arrived, Lewis was dead on the driveway.

Now the LAPD is looking into the possibility that Lewis might have been under the influence of a new designer drug called "Smiles."

We won't know conclusively whether Lewis was on drugs until toxicology results come in. That could take several weeks. But police say they are seeing the designer drug more and more.

"The thing we are seeing lately here in Los Angeles and across the country are some of these synthetic designer-type drugs, something like 'bath salts,' or the new one we've heard around here called Smiles," said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.

"It's kind of a mixture of crystal meth, bath salts and 'acid,' all in one," said Cary Quashen, who runs a drug rehabilitation facility in Santa Clarita. He says the drug has been around since about 2003.

An autopsy of Lewis is pending.


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