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Driver Gets 6.5 to 20 Years in I-95 Crash that Killed Young Friend

June 7, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Robert D. James, 215.348.6332, rdjames@buckscounty.org

Arthur Lewis  Jahvairia Mahmood
      Arthur A. Lewis                    Javairia Mahmood 

A New Jersey man was sentenced today in Bucks County Common Pleas Court to six and one-half to 20 years in prison for killing a close friend by driving recklessly and crashing his car on Interstate 95 last year.

Arthur A. Lewis, 24, of Trenton, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the April 21, 2017, death of Javairia Mahmood, 22, also of Trenton.

Lewis was fleeing from state police on northbound I-95 at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour when his green Acura CL struck a concrete barrier at the Bristol exit and overturned.

Mahmood, who was wearing a seat belt in the front passenger seat, was killed, while Lewis and two rear-seat passengers suffered non-fatal injuries.

State Police Trooper Gerald Gronski began chasing Lewis’ vehicle when it passed the Academy Road exit in Philadelphia at a high speed. The Acura reached an estimated speed of 95 mph before it pulled to the shoulder, as if it were stopping.

Lewis then pulled the car back on the roadway and drove off at even higher speeds before crashing, Deputy District Attorney Robert D. James said in court.

Investigators later found four bundles of heroin in an inside pocket of Lewis’ jacket, James said.

The third-degree murder plea was the result of negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys Sara M. Webster and Andrew F. Schneider. As part of the agreement, attorneys recommended a sentence of six and one-half years at the minimum end, with the maximum left up to Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr.

Mahmood, the youngest of seven children, was killed two nights before the scheduled marriage of her eldest sister, Misbah.

“I buried my sister on the day I was supposed to get married. I have yet to unpack the emotional trauma that has caused,” Misbah Mahmood told Fritsch. “…She was my baby sister, my hype woman, the person who always said positive things to me. Javairia always saw the best in everyone, even though they were not able to see it in themselves.”

Another sister, Sabba Mahmood, described the victim as a devoted, supportive, optimistic friend; an artist and an honor student who loved photography, music and singing.

“The gross disregard for her life and her safety is apparent with the outcome of the situation,” she said. “She is no longer living because of the consequences of someone else’s actions. Nothing I can do will change that.”

Lewis’s aunt, Ada Wimbush, said her nephew and Mahmood had become friends in part through their love of music, spending hours together writing music and singing. She said Lewis had been deeply depressed before the crash over the recent death of his younger brother, and that he had become withdrawn and distant.

“We may not feel your pain, but we understand the loss,” Wimbush told Mahmood’s family and friends, who packed one side of the courtroom. “She was a really close friend to Arthur and our family.”

Lewis told Fritsch that his crime “was just a disastrous mistake that I regret.” He told Mahmood’s family that he was “hoping and praying that someday you’ll forgive me. During the time that I’m incarcerated, I hope to become a better man.”

Fritsch, calling Lewis’ actions “extremely reckless,” accepted the plea negotiation and set the maximum for his sentence at 20 years.

The case was investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police and the District Attorney’s Crash Investigation Unit, and was prosecuted by James and Deputy District Attorney Edward M. Louka.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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