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'Sons of Anarchy' actor released from jail five days before attack

"Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis was released from jail less than a week before police say he fatally attacked his 81-year-old landlord, despite two convictions in August that earned sentences of significant jail time.

Lewis, 28, pleaded no contest Aug. 8 to one count of assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 365 days in Los Angeles County jail with three years of probation, a district attorney's office spokeswoman said. Nine days later, he pleaded no contest to a burglary charge in separate case and received 291 days in jail.

He was released from custody Friday afternoon, online jail records show. It was not immediately clear why he was released.

Investigators have identified Lewis as the sole suspect in the death of Catherine Davis, 81, after a bizarre altercation Wednesday at her Los Feliz home, where Davis had rented a room to the actor. Lewis was later found dead in the driveway.

Los Angeles police were called to the 3600 block of Lowry Road about 10:40 a.m. after receiving several calls reporting a "screaming woman" and three men fighting in the usually quiet neighborhood near Griffith Park.

The owner of a home next to Davis', who asked not to be identified, said Lewis approached him that morning wearing only jeans and introduced himself as "John," a new neighbor. Lewis left but returned about 15 minutes later, when he hopped a fence and began attacking a painter in the neighbor's yard, the neighbor said.

The neighbor's wife ran to intervene, he said, and started screaming for help. The neighbor then went outside and joined the fray. He said Lewis was impervious to the blows he took -- that it was like “hitting him with a fly swatter.”

The neighbor, his wife and the painter ran into the house after managing to shake Lewis. It took all three barricaded against the door to keep him out, the neighbor said.

When police arrived, Lewis was dead in Davis' driveway about six feet from a wall. They later found Davis' body in her home.

Investigators said they believe Lewis died after falling from a nearby roof or balcony and Davis died from blunt force trauma. Coroner's officials said no official causes of death had been determined.

Investigators are looking into whether Lewis may have been under the influence of C2-I — a new designer drug known as "smiles" — during the altercation, sources said. The illegal drug causes hallucinogenic effects, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and was linked to the deaths of two North Dakota teenagers this summer.

The drug is usually sold in tablets or powder form, which users often mix with chocolate before eating.

Best known for his two-season role as Kip "Half-Sack" Epps on "Sons of Anarchy," Lewis' list of credits include appearances on "Boston Public," "The O.C.," "Criminal Minds" and "The Guardian." The Los Angeles native also had several film roles, including a part in "The Runaways" and "Raise Your Voice," starring Hilary Duff.

He most recently played a prisoner in "186 Dollars to Freedom," released this month.

ALSO:

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Remains found in Pacific Palisades those of missing UCLA student

Chef accused of cooking wife; defense wants second-degree murder

— Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather

 
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