JONESBORO — The defense attorney for a McDonough woman accused of murder in the shooting death of a police officer is worried a jury might be prejudiced by her extensive record of felony convictions.
Lisa Lebis is set to go on trial next week in the Dec. 17, 2012, shooting of Clayton County Police Officer Sean Callahan. Callahan died the next day and his alleged shooter, Tremaine Lebis, was killed at the scene by another police officer.
Although Lebis didn’t pull the trigger, she is being charged as a party to the crime of murder, which is allowable under Georgia law. Known as “the hand of one is the hand of all,” codefendants can be held responsible if someone else dies during the commission of a felony to which they are a part.
Tremaine Lebis had spent 15 years in prison before being released in May 2012, just seven months before the shooting. His widow also has an extensive criminal history that includes a conviction for aggravated assault.
Her four prior felony convictions mean a mandatory sentence of life without parole under Georgia’s “three strikes” law, if she is convicted of felony murder. Even if the jury disregards the murder count, Lebis is looking at a maximum of 52 years if convicted on the other charges, all of which must be served without parole, said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Gore, who is prosecuting the case with District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson.
Defense attorney Kenneth Ellis rejected a 25-year plea deal offered by Lawson, confident the state won’t get a murder conviction. Jury selection begins Monday and is expected to take all day.
The parties were in Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert Collier’s courtroom Friday morning to argue motions. Collier denied Ellis’ motions to dismiss several of the counts on statutory grounds.
The shootings happened at Motel 6 in Stockbridge. Tremaine and Lisa Lebis had rented a room there but had no money to continue staying, said Gore. Lisa Lebis went to the front office and argued with two black female employees, allegedly using profanity and the so-called “N” word, for which she is charged with disorderly conduct.
Gore said the women feared for their safety and called 911. After officers arrived, the women checked the couple’s room and noticed damage. When the officers tried to arrest the two for abusive language and criminal damage to the room, Tremaine Lebis ran around a building and Callahan gave chase.
Gore said Tremaine Lebis pulled a handgun from his waist and fired one shot at Callahan, hitting him in the neck. A second police officer returned fire and killed Lebis. While Callahan’s partner, Officer Waymondo Brown, rendered first aid to him at the bottom of a 20-foot embankment, Gore said Lisa Lebis stood at the top, screaming and yelling at him.
Gore said Brown was forced to stop rendering aid and pull his weapon on Lisa Lebis to get her to shut up. As Brown treated Callahan, other officers arrived and tried to take Lisa Lebis into custody. She is charged with kicking one officer in the chest and with obstruction of another.
When officers searched the room, they reportedly found guns, pipe rockets and silencers — none of which the convicted felons were allowed to possess, said Gore.
Callahan’s mother, Darlene Rogers, and her husband attended the motions hearing and are expected to observe the trial next week.