Life in Prison for Man Who Killed Granny

Family scolds man who killed grandmother in fire in court

Nearly five years to the day that Lewis Drayton set fire to his grandmother's Richmond Heights house, killing her, the 30-year-old learned he will be spending the rest of his life in prison.

The sentence came down from Judge Rosa Rodriguez yesterday, after what was an emotional day for all of Virginia Howard's family members in the courtroom.

All except for Drayton, who merely nodded as the sentence was handed down.

The emotions came earlier, as the 66-year-old's relatives got their last chance to scold Drayton for taking her life. 

"You took her life for no reason. She truly loved you unconditionally.  Why did you take her life?" asked asked Howard's sister, Sharon Staples.

Howard, a churchgoing woman who played the organ at hundreds of services, had taken the Drayton into her home. Prosecutors said Drayton poured gasoline on the house, and set it ablaze.

Drayton had first told police that he'd set the fire to collect insurance money on the house, but in court he denied committing the act until the end.

Staples said she stood by him until he displayed his cold arrogance in the courtroom.

"I am the one who believed that there was no way you could have done this horrific crime," Staples said. "I don't know how you can live with yourself without apologizing to this family."

At least one family member stood by Drayton yesterday. His sister Rakia told the judge the crime was out of character.

"All I know is, before he left, he was a great, great, great person," she said.

Drayton got his say in court yesterday, but rather than confess any sorrow over the crime, he thanked family members who stood by him.

"[Those] who took the time to come and talk to me, not listen to what they are told."

The family says the tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the family.

"Without her, we're steadily drifting apart," said one family member.

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