The man suspected of attacking his 81-year-old landlady before falling to his death had a list of screen credits, and he also had a rap sheet. Now investigators are looking into whether drugs played a role in the bizarre string of events. Patrick Healy reports from Los Feliz for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sept. 27, 2012.
The "Sons of Anarchy" actor who died during a Los Feliz rampage that also left his landlady dead had been arrested repeatedly during the past year and characterized in court documents as "mentally disturbed" and "suicidal," a review of the documents reveals.
Jonathan Kendrick Lewis, known as Johnny Lewis, had been arrested and charged with three crimes during January and February of this year.
"This officer is very concerned for the well being of not only the community but that of the defendant," stated a probation report prepared by Jack Avery, a deputy probation officer, for a case in which Lewis was accused of attempting to burglarize a Santa Monica home while the female resident was home.
Lewis entered a no contest plea to that charge, and also to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon in a separate case, according to Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles District Attorney.
Lewis was released from custody Sept. 21, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's records.
What was not immediately clear from court records is the length of the sentences Lewis served.
The DA's office has requested transcripts of the sentencing hearings, but that may not be available before Monday, Robison said.
Lewis has an extensive list of acting credits in both film and television, where he attracted attention portraying the outlaw biker "Half Sack" in the FX Series "Sons of Anarchy." Lewis' character died and was written out of the series two years ago at the end of its second season.
The court records paint a picture of the actor's personal life spiralling out of control.
In April, Lewis' attorney described him in a legal filing as "delusional and oppositional."
Attorney Jonathan Mandel filed a declaration seeking a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation of Lewis.
"According to his family and others, Mr. Lewis has been increasingly unstable, irrational, and frequently delusional, all of which have caused him to lose employment and become homeless," Mandel wrote. He further stated Lewis was "indigent."
Police investigators believe Lewis had stayed periodically at a large Los Feliz house owned by Catherine Davis, 81. She took in boarders, many of them from the entertainment industry, neighbors said.
A woman's screams prompted a series of 911 calls to police on Wednesday morning. Officers arriving at the hillside home on Lowry Road found Lewis, 28, dead in the driveway.
It was apparent he had either fallen or jumped from a higher level of the property, according to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.
When officers entered the home, they found Davis' body and blood in several rooms.
She was strangled and suffered blunt force trauma, the coroner's office said.
Police believe Lewis killed Davis, then took his own life.
"There is no indication anyone else was in the house," Smith said.
At some point during the rampage, Lewis went next door and confronted a painter at work on the exterior.
The homeowners brought the painter inside and then held the door shut as Lewis attempted to break-in, police said.
Smith described Lewis' actions as "strange." Lewis displayed "superhuman" strength, according to police and witnesses.
That strength, combined with delusional behavior, is regarded as a potential indicator of the influence of certain drugs, such as methamphetamines, according to Howard Samuels, an addiction specialist and founder of the Hills Treatment Center.
The coroner is conducting a toxicology analysis of Lewis in conjunction with his autopsy. Results from the toxicology reports may not be available for several weeks.
The court documents include letters revealing that Lewis took part in an in-patient substance abuse rehab program at the Ridgeview Ranch facility in Altadena.
He began the program on May 23. Lewis completed the 30-day residential program and was "stepped down" to a lower level of care.
There were no positive drug tests. His counselor, Kathleen Whyte wrote, "We feel that Mr. Lewis is positive toward recovery at this time.
But his probation officer had a different view.
"The defendant will continue to be a threat to any community he may reside," the officer wrote in his pre-sentencing report. "His behavior ... must be taken seriously appropriate sanctions imposed to safeguard others."
The report also stated that Lewis "has a special handling historical classification of 'mentally disturbed', 'suicidal' ..."