Man admits he beat, stabbed man to death
Published: March 22, 2013
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ST. CROIX - A 45-year-old homeless man has admitted to brutally beating and stabbing a 56-year-old man to death after an altercation in 2011.
Clifton Lewis, known as "The Runner," was arrested Sept. 13, 2011, and charged with first-degree murder and carrying or using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence after police said he stabbed Alfred Cordice, who also was homeless, multiple times near Sunny Isle Shopping Center.
Lewis had been heading to trial in the case, but on Wednesday, he appeared before Presiding V.I. Superior Court Judge Darryl Donohue Sr. and accepted a plea offer made by prosecutors.
As stated in the plea agreement, Lewis pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, the lesser included charge against him. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed that they would dismiss the weapon charge and also dismiss a trespassing charge that had been pending against him from 2010.
Cordice had been charged in a 2005 manslaughter case that occurred a stone's throw from where he died, and he was accused of killing Lloyd Noorhassan during a drinking game. Cordice had been cleared of the murder charge.
The fatal altercation between Lewis and Cordice began across the road from where Cordice's body was found, according to V.I. Police Detective Kirk Fieulleteau.
After witnesses to the killing identified Lewis, police officers found him and a bloody knife near the Sunny Isle traffic light, Fieulleteau said. Lewis was taken in for questioning and ended up describing what happened in gruesome detail - even acting out some of the more graphic details, according to Fieulleteau's affidavit.
Lewis told police that the altercation started when Cordice walked up to him while he was seated near the Wendy's restaurant and kicked Lewis in the face.
Lewis told Police Detective Jeffrey Nisbett that he then waited for about a half-hour and went in search of weapons, Fieulleteau said. He was able to come up with two items: a metal pipe and a long kitchen knife, according to police.
Lewis then went looking for Cordice, eventually finding him behind the small strip of stores in Diamond Ruby, according to police.
Lewis told police he hit Cordice in the head four times while shouting, "Don't get up," but Cordice kept trying to get up, the detective said.
"He pulled out the long knife and began stabbing Alfred all in his chest and belly," Fieulleteau said, adding that Lewis gestured the stabbing motions. "He kept telling Alfred to stay down, but he wouldn't listen, so he put him down by stabbing him up real good."
When Fieulleteau arrived on the scene, he found Cordice's body, which was lying face-up in the grass with multiple stab wounds around his chest and abdomen and two fractures to his head, he said. Emergency medical responders already had pronounced Cordice dead.
Lewis has been picked up by police almost 10 times for minor offenses, such as vagrancy, trespassing and simple possession of a controlled substance, according to court files. Most recently, he was arrested July 12, 2011, for unlawful entry, but he has never been convicted of any charges - the majority of them having been dismissed.
Sentencing for Lewis has been scheduled for May 1 in Donohue's courtroom.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.