The man accused of robbing and killing pizza delivery driver and artist Salahuddin Jitmoud escalated to violent crime after a long history of less serious arrests, according to court records and police.
Antonio Lewis, 30, was charged late Monday with murder and first-degree robbery in Jitmoud's April 19 stabbing death. Lewis was a resident of the apartment complex where Jitmoud's body was found, Lexington police said in court documents.
Jitmoud worked for Pizza Hut and was making deliveries when he was killed, police have said.
Fayette District Judge Megan Lake Thornton entered a not-guilty plea on Lewis' behalf during an arraignment Tuesday afternoon. He appeared for arraignment via video from the Fayette County jail. Lewis is being represented by the public defender's office.
Some Muslim residents in Lexington had feared that Jitmoud's slaying was a hate crime. But Lewis' arrest citation describes it as a homicide committed in the course of a robbery.
Lewis "caused the death of the victim by means of a sharp-edged instrument," the citation states. "During the commission of the murder, the listed suspect removed property from the victim."
Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Tuesday that there was no evidence to date suggesting the homicide was a hate crime.
"The facts all point to it being a robbery," she said.
Lewis contended that he is innocent in answer to reporters' questions early Tuesday as he was moved from police headquarters to a police car. "I didn't kill nobody," Lewis said. Asked by a reporter what happened, he said, "I don't know what happened."
Jitmoud, 22, was found stabbed to death about 10:45 p.m. April 19 in a breezeway at Walnut Hill Apartments at 3716 Trent Circle. Lewis' address is listed as 3716 Trent Circle, No. 1206.
Jitmoud's death was Lexington's sixth homicide of the year, and it occurred about three days after University of Kentucky student Jonathan Krueger, 22, was shot to death in an apparent robbery near campus, at East Maxwell Street and Transylvania Park. Three people, including a juvenile, were charged in that case. The first arrest occurred within hours of the shooting.
Mayor Jim Gray and other officials, including police Chief Mark Barnard and Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson, met with Jitmoud's relatives and Muslim residents Friday to reassure them that everything was being done to find his killer.
Lewis has a history of criminal offenses — most of them relatively minor — dating back several years, according to court records.
One exception was in 2007, when he was charged with second-degree burglary. However, the charge was reduced to first-degree criminal trespassing, and Lewis was sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty, according to the Fayette District Court clerk's office.
He was charged with robbery in 2006, but the case was dismissed after a grand jury declined to indict.
In recent years, Lewis has been charged with intoxication, trespassing, possession of cocaine or marijuana, promoting contraband, and writing cold checks. In most instances, he was sentenced to time served.
Lewis briefly was held at the jail last week on a contempt of court citation. He was there from April 21 — two days after Jitmoud's death — until he bonded out on April 23, officials said.
Lewis is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing May 7.