Mental testing ordered on Breanna Lewis

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By Don Worthington

CHESTERFIELD – A judge wants more information and a mental evaluation before considering bond for Breanna Lewis, the young mother accused of killing her 11-month-old daughter, Harlee, on May 29.
Lewis made her first court appearance Wednesday since being arrested June 6. She has been in custody since May 31 after being questioned by Chesterfield County sheriff’s deputies. She did not appear at two previous court hearings in the case.
Lewis did not speak at Wednesday’s bond hearing.
She has been charged with murder/homicide by child abuse, desecration of human remains, tampering with evidence, and giving false information to law enforcement. The murder charge carries a possible sentence of 20 years to life.
At the hearing, prosecutors and her attorneys discussed setting bond. Prosecutors said she has limited ties to South Carolina and could be a flight risk. They asked the judge to consider setting a high bond. They said investigators have spent more time in North Carolina working the case than in South Carolina.
Lewis’ attorney argued she “no money at all” and no prior arrests, and that keeping her in custody for the last eight months was unjust and harmful. The attorney also noted that the defendant’s ties to North Carolina are only about 20 miles from Chesterfield County.
Prosecutors said they will not be able to try Breanna Lewis before June because of cases already on the court’s docket.
The investigation of Harlee’s death came after her mother called 911, saying a man driving an SUV assaulted her at her mailbox on Jackson Road and took her baby.
Deputies immediately began searching for Harlee. Other deputies questioned Lewis, asking for details of the event.
Officers said Lewis could recall parts of the incident in detail but “blacked out” on other aspects.
Deputies obtained a search warrant for Lewis’ home on Daisy Lewis Lane. They searched inside the residence, where Lewis said she had last seen her daughter in a playpen.
They then searched around the residence, finding Harlee's body inside a box diapers are sold in.
Prosecutors said an autopsy showed cerebral edema “was the likely cause of death.” Suffocation is another possibility.
Prosecutors revealed limited details of the case during the bond hearing.
In June, Judge Jocelyn Newman of Columbia issued a gag order in the case, restricting those involved from publicly discussing it without the court’s permission.
The judge’s order bars public comments by the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office, the State Law Enforcement Division, the 4th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the defendant, the defendant’s family, any witnesses or potential witnesses, the defendant’s counsel, and the victim’s family.
“There is a substantial likelihood that the defendant may be denied a fair trial if extrajudicial statements continue to be made in this case,” Newman wrote at the time.
According to court records, Lewis’ attorney is Franklin Joyner of Cheraw.