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Teen to be tried in fatal stabbing at Warren school

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
Defendant Tanaya Lewis,18, looks straight ahead during the testimony of Detective Jim Twardesky at her preliminary exam.

Warren — A 17-year-old Warren Fitzgerald High student will be tried in the fatal stabbing of a classmate last September, Warren 37th District Judge Matthew Sabaugh ruled Friday at the end of a preliminary examination.

Tanaya Lewis is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the Sept. 12 death of 16-year-old Danyna Gibson.

Authorities allege Lewis brought a steak knife to school and stabbed Gibson with it during class in front of 20 witnesses. The girls were described by police as straight-A students who had apparently argued and texted each over a student, “Evan,” whom both had dated.

Sabaugh said Friday from the evidence and testimony he heard it was clear that the crime occurred, Lewis was involved and the offense “met the standards of first-degree premeditated murder.”

Sabaugh ordered the case bound over to Macomb Circuit Court before Kathryn A. Viviano and Lewis held in jail without bond. Lewis will be formally arraigned on March 18.

Lewis, dressed in jail garb, showed little emotion during the brief court hearing.

Warren Police Detective James Twardesky testified that when he initially began his questioning of Tanaya Lewis about the incident and asked whether Lewis knew Danyna Gibson, she said, “I don’t like her … I hate her.”

Warren Police Detective James Twardesky testified when he initially began his questioning of Lewis about the incident and asked whether Lewis knew Gibson, she said. “I don’t like her … I hate her.”

Twardesky testified Lewis described Evan, a classmate, as the “love of her life” and said they had broken up over the summer. But the pair were working on their relationship and Gibson “was ruining everything.”

Lewis told Twardesky she got up around 5 a.m. on Sept. 12, fed her dog and was driven to school by Evan.

“She said she gave him some things she wouldn’t need any more, $100 and some other things,” Twardesky said.

Witnesses told police Lewis smiled and laughed as she chased Gibson with the knife. According to police, a teacher finally pushed Lewis out of the classroom.

“She didn’t remember much, said the air was thick in the room,” said Twardesky. “She said it was dark. She said she looked at Ms.Gibson and she seemed scared.”

Lewis initially didn’t remember having a knife and later recalled she took a knife from the kitchen after feeding her dog at home. On cross examination, defense attorney Mark Brown asked Twardesky if Lewis was on any medication and the detective said the teen told her she was taking something, possibly for depression.

 Macomb County assistant prosecutor Bill Cataldo told Sabaugh the known facts required that Lewis be tried.

“She was angry at Gibson and at Evan,” Cataldo told Sabaugh. “… She had texted they were going to get it.”

“…Just before the stabbing, she texted Evan: ‘It’s time.’” Cataldo said.

The parents of Tanaya Lewis,18, listen during her preliminary hearing, in which is was determined that the former Warren Fitzgerald High School student will be bound over for trial in the fatal stabbing of her romantic rival.

School employees were able to move Lewis out of the room after the stabbing but Cataldo said later Lewis told others as she tried to get back in the room, “I’m going to kill her.”

Gibson, who later died during surgery from two stab wounds in the chest, was a National Honor Society student and active on the school’s cross country team, student council, robotics club, color guard and marching band.

Lewis has had a forensic examination by psychiatrists and was found mentally competent to assist in her defense.

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