Probation report called ‘Sons of Anarchy’ actor ‘a threat’
By the CNN Wire Staff
LOS ANGELES (CNN) – The “Sons of Anarchy” actor suspected of killing his landlord before falling to his death on Wednesday had drug issues, mental health problems and was a threat, his probation report said last spring.
The May 17 report says that Johnny Lewis, 28, “suffers from some form of chemical dependency, mental health issue and a lack of permanent housing. Given this, (Lewis) will continue to be a threat to any community he may reside.”
Police are seeking to understand what may have sparked the rampage that led to the death of Katherine Davis, 81.
She died from “blunt head trauma and strangulation,” according to preliminary findings from the autopsy conducted Thursday, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office said.
Lewis was arrested twice in February on burglary and battery charges in Santa Monica, according to records obtained by CNN.
But Lewis’ lawyer, Jonathan Mandel, said Friday that he had not considered his client a threat to anyone. “The behavior with me was fine,” he said. “What was known in May about Johnny was that he had two fairly minor offenses — which were, fortunately, not serious. And he did have a diagnosis, eventually, of chemically induced psychosis.”
Mandel, who first represented Lewis in April, said he never would have predicted Lewis’ involvement in a killing and had not suspected he was taking drugs.
“From April until August or September, he was probably using no drugs at all,” he said. “He was incarcerated for a couple of months and then he went to a treatment facility.”
Though Lewis did appear, at times, to be delusional, “I never got the sense, when I was representing him, that he was an addict. I did think that he had severe mental problems.”
Police suspect drugs may have been involved, but “we don’t have any hard evidence that says he was on anything right now,” LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said Thursday.
Toxicology findings from the autopsy are not expected to be completed for at least a month.
No one saw what happened inside the house where Davis, the homeowner, was found beaten to death, Smith said. Two men — the owner of the house next door and a painter — say Lewis attacked them before he fell to his death.
Other neighbors told police they heard a woman’s screams and glass breaking, Smith said.
The home is in the Los Feliz neighborhood near Griffith Park, on the eastern edge of the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.
An officer responding to a neighbor’s 911 call found Lewis dead in the driveway, Smith said Thursday.
The house “appeared to have been ransacked,” he said. Davis’ body was found on the second floor of the three-level house, with her dead cat nearby, police said.
Davis, who had lived in the home for decades, “typically rented to people in the movie industry — writers and actors — and they would come up here because it’s a wonderful, quiet neighborhood,” Smith said.
Lewis had lived in the home, located on a winding, narrow residential street on the eastern edge of Hollywood, for about two weeks, Smith said.
He played Kip “Half Sack” Epps in 26 episodes during the first two seasons of “Sons of Anarchy” on the FX Network, according to the Internet Movie Database. His character was killed in the finale of season two.
“Sons” creator Kurt Sutter, in a Twitter posting Thursday, called Lewis’ death “a tragic end for an extremely talented guy, who unfortunately had lost his way.”
“I wish I could say that I was shocked by the events last night, but I was not,” Sutter’s tweet said. “I am deeply sorry that an innocent life had to be thrown into his destructive path. Yes, it’s day of mourning, but it’s also a day of awareness and gratitude. Sadly, some of us carry the message by dying.”
Sutter told TV writer Alan Sepinwall in an interview published in December 2009 that “Johnny wasn’t happy on the show.”
“Creatively, he really wanted out of his contract,” Sutter told Sepinwell. “We had ongoing conversations, and we decided we’d find some noble way for him to go.”
Lewis played Dennis “Chili” Childress in nine episodes of “The O.C.” in 2005 and 2006, according to IMDb.com.
His last work was in an independent movie, “186 Dollars to Get Out,” scheduled for release this month, the IMDb.com listings said.
Lewis, whose full name is Jonathan Kendrick Lewis, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He held dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, according to his IMDb biography.
CNN’s Alan Duke and Erin Burnett contributed to this report.