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BLOOMINGTON -- A Bloomington man was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday for the 2005 murder of Barry Lewis.

Diyez Owens, 36, was convicted in February of the strangulation death of Lewis, whose body was found by Bloomington police in the trunk of a stolen car.

Prosecutor Jacob Harlow asked for a 75-year term, 15 years more than the maximum term, because of Owens' extensive criminal record.

The crime, which took place in the basement of a home on East Olive Street, was "a calculated, cold-blooded, senseless act of violence and it was executed without apology," said Harlow.

Defense lawyer David Rumley argued 20 years was an appropriate sentence for Owens, who is serving 10 years for armed robbery. In recommending the minimum sentence for murder, Rumley pointed out that co-defendant Tommy Lee Slayton received 15 years on second-degree murder charges for his role.

Slayton served 4½ years for concealing a homicide and possession of a stolen vehicle. In 2009, he was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to lesser charges in 2010 after telling authorities that he participated in the final phase of the killing because he was threatened by Owens.

"He got a gift of 15 years for his admitting his equal role in the killing of Barry Lewis," Rumley said of Slayton's deal with prosecutors.

McLean County Judge James Souk disagreed, saying Slayton's role was "almost an afterthought in the situation."

The fact that Lewis used and sold drugs does not minimize his value as a human being, Souk said.

Whatever his shortcomings, Lewis "had a right to his life and his life had equal value with each of us and that was taken away," said Souk.

 

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