MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida Highway Patrol said DNA in vehicles involved in the hit and run of a father and son led them to arrest a man over the weekend in connection to the crime.
Earl Lewis, 32, appeared in bond court Monday morning where Judge Mindy Glazer said Lewis showed a callous disregard for life by fleeing. She set his bond at $600,000.
“That was pretty callous,” said Glazer. “You caused the accident and killed 2 people and fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle.”
When Lewis protested that his bond was too high, Judge Glazer noted that Lewis “had a chance” but the victims did not. She ordered that if he is able to post bond that he would have to wear a GPS monitor. She also appointed an Assistant Public Defender for him.
We also learned in bond court that there is a fugitive warrant for Lewis in Broward County.
Records show Lewis has been arrested before for attempted 2nd-degree murder, battery, robbery by sudden snatching, possession of cannabis, resisting arrest with violence and tampering with physical evidence.
FHP released more details in the case saying multiple agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service had to get involved. They said he was found hiding in a Hialeah, which CBS4 was learned was a Holiday Inn by the Palmetto Expressway.
“This was a multi-agency effort. We had the assistance of the U.S. Marshals along with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office who worked tirelessly and they were able to track him down,” said Lt. Alex Camacho with Florida Highway Patrol.
Lewis is accused of hitting and killing a father and son standing on the side of the on-ramp from Florida’s Turnpike to the EB Dolphin Expressway (SR-836) then stealing one of their vehicles and driving with a suspended license.
On February 9th, Cesar Eduardo Cepeda, 34, was driving his pickup truck when he lost control and hit a guardrail at around 5 a.m.
Cepeda called his father, Jose Eduardo Cepeda Luna, who immediately came to the scene to help his son.
While the two were standing next to Cepeda’s truck, a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro driving in the same direction veered off the road, striking and killing the two men.
The driver of the Camaro, now identified by authorities as Lewis, then stole Luna’s Chevy Equinox and sped off.
Florida Highway Patrol later found the Equinox abandoned in Homestead that same day.
At the time, FHP located the owner of the Camaro but that person was not considered a person of interest.
CBS4 was told that the owner of the Camaro gave names to FHP of people who had access to the vehicle.
The investigation was later solidified with DNA evidence.
Lt. Camacho said he was glad they could bring closure to a grieving family.
“Extremely gratified that we bring closure to the family. This was a tragic case,” said Lt. Camacho.
Camacho also told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that, “You have to realize that an accident is one thing but when you leave the scene and fail to stop, it is a crime. You are required by law to stop and provide information and render aid.”
As for Lewis, he is charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death, driving with a suspended license and grand theft.
A family spokeswoman had pleaded for the suspect in this case to turn himself in.
During an emotional news conference at FHP headquarters on February 26th, Josephine Sadelis-Cepeda said, “There are no words to say except that this can happen to you. So treat this as you would any of your family members.”
Sadelis-Cepeda, who lost both her brother-in-law and father-in-law, said “I would say to whoever did this you should turn yourself in and let justice be done and bring peace to the family because of the harm that this tragedy has caused. This happens too many times a year. You left behind a father and a son. There are four children now without their fathers, to fend for them, to provide for their soccer lessons, for their baseball lessons.”