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A convicted murderer has been arrested for another killing, this one the fatal shooting of a Navy veteran who spent his final moments trying to shield his girlfriend from violence.
James Lewis, 51, is accused of attacking Troy Traynham, 59, outside the victim's apartment building in New Jersey on Sept. 18. Lewis allegedly approached Traynham as he was helping his girlfriend unload groceries from her car, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said in a Thursday press release. A struggle ensued and Lewis allegedly shot Traynham to death then “zip-tied the victim’s girlfriend and stole the vehicle with her in it, before crashing a short time later,” according to a press release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Traynham was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. He'd previously in the Navy, in a defense division and more recently worked as both a security specialist and a chef for hotels and restaurants.
Following the shooting in East Orange, Lewis allegedly fled all the way down to Winter Haven in Florida. On Tuesday, police in Polk County tracked him down to a residence and arrested him on a New Jersey warrant for murder, kidnapping, carjacking, and weapons charges.
This is not Lewis’ first murder arrest. He was convicted of murder as well as robbery and possession of a weapon stemming from an incident in 1989.
It’s not clear if Lewis has an attorney. He is still in Florida pending extradition to New Jersey.
“Troy was a wonderful son, brother, uncle, cousin and friend,” Traynham’s family said in a statement, obtained by NJ.com.“He would always go out of his way to help others. He was charming, intelligent and loved to put a smile on someone’s face.”
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