Hate crime? Two young black teens charged with setting mentally ill man, 53, on fire and murdering him

ROCHESTER, NY – Two teenage juveniles are facing murder charges, as authorities allege that the suspects intentionally set a 53-year-old on fire while inside of the victim’s apartment earlier in March. 

In a rare instance, authorities have released the names of the juveniles allegedly behind the murder of 53-year-old Steven Amenhause that occurred on March 12th. 

On March 12th, police say that 16-year-old Zayvion Perry and 14-year-old Adriel Riley Jr. had doused Amenhause with a flammable accelerant as he was sitting in a chair inside of his Lyell Avenue apartment and set him on fire. 

The fire wound up covering 70% of Amenhause’s body with second-and third-degree burns. 

Police had originally arrested Perry and Riley under charges of first-degree assault and second-degree arson with respect to the incident. However, those original charges were doled out while Amenhause was still alive

On March 16th, Amenhause sadly succumbed to his wounds while being treated at hospital’s burn unit. 

With said development in the case, Perry and Riley have now been charged with second-degree murder.

Captain Frank Umbino of the Rochester Police Department spoke about the victim during a recent press conference; noting how Amenhause was adopted as a child, and his wife passed away years ago and his longtime girlfriend just passed away this past October. 

Captain Umbino went to explain why he was giving so many details about the murder victim’s life before his death:

“The reason I’m telling you a little bit about him, because there’s nobody else to speak for him.”

Amenhause apparently lived alone and has no surviving family members to mourn his death. Because of that being the case with the victim, in conjunction with the depraved nature of the offense, Captain Umbino says that this is going to be a case that sticks with him:

“I have seen a lot. There are a few cases that stick out. Seeing the pictures of this guy, knowing that he has no family around, just to speak for him…this is one that I’ll remember.”

Considering the age of the suspects, the two will have their cases heard by separate court systems within the state. 

With Riley being 14-years-old, he will be prosecuted as a juvenile offender; and since Perry is 16-years-old, he will be prosecuted as an adolescent offender. 

When it comes to how New York addresses criminal proceedings involving defendants under the age of 18, the state has essentially age brackets and numerous different court systems depending on an offender’s age and alleged crime. 

When it comes to “juvenile offenders”, the state notes the following about how those cases are treated: 

“A child who is 13, 14, or 15-years-old and is charged with committing a serious or violent felony offense listed in Penal Law 10.00 (18), is considered a Juvenile Offender.

These cases are heard in the Youth Part of the Supreme or County Court. Juvenile Offenders who are convicted after a plea or a trial are subject to less severe sentences than adults. Juvenile Offenders who are convicted will have a permanent criminal record unless the Court grants Youth Offender status.”

“Juvenile Offender cases can be transferred to Family Court if the Court determines that the transfer would be in the interests of justice. Upon transfer to Family Court, the child is then considered a Juvenile Delinquent.”

As for “adolescent offenders”, the state notes: 

“As of October 1, 2019, a 16 or 17-year-old who commits a felony is an adolescent offender. This means that the case is originally heard in the Youth Part of the Supreme or County Court.

However, the case may be transferred to the Family Court, where the youth will be considered a juvenile delinquent and will be eligible to receive all the services and programs available to all juvenile delinquents.”

While both “adolescent” and “juvenile” offenders can have their cases transferred to Family Court – the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office has assured that neither one of these defendants will benefit from such leniency. 

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In other reports regarding alleged juvenile offenders, a vigil was held in February to commemorate the life of 15-yearold Melanie Lyons – who was killed in a stabbing incident in a Wal-Mart back in late January. 

Police have charged four juveniles, aged between 12 and 14, in the murder. 

Whitley Richard, Lyons’ cousin, spoke about the heartache associated with her cousin dying at such a young age: 

“Nobody wants to bury their child. Nobody. To see her come out of Walmart on a stretcher with no life, I can’t imagine nobody going through that.”

What’s all the more sad in the case, was that it was Lyons’ birthday on the day she was killed. 

Her brother, Lawrence Senegal, noted the aforementioned, while also saying that this tragedy should serve as a call to action for parents of young children: 

“It can happen to anybody. It happened to my sister on her birthday…It starts in the home and people taking actions for their kids and taking care of their kids how they’re supposed to.”

We at Law Enforcement Today reported on this case as it was first developing. 

Here’s the back on the troubling incident. 

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LAKE CHARLES, LA – Four juvenile suspects were arrested for the stabbing death of a 15-year-old girl inside of a Walmart, with one facing second degree murder and the three others facing principle to second degree murder.

The moments leading up to the altercation that turned murderous were also captured on video and uploaded to social media.

Police are currently not release the identities of either the victim or the four suspects arrested in the case, likely due to the suspects all being juvenile. Detectives were said to have arrested four girls, one aged 14, two aged 13, and one other aged 12 for the January 23rd murder of the 15-year-old victim.

According to the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, the confrontation that turned deadly transpired inside of a Walmart located in Lake Charles at approximately 7:30 p.m. on January 23rd.

Officials say that when the physical altercation transpired, the victim was stabbed by one of the suspects. Apparently, police say the knife used in the killing was actually stolen from within the Walmart.

Sheriff Tony Mancuso noted the disturbing moments captured and uploaded to social media:

“The whole murder was played out on [social media]…There appeared to be no remorse.  It was very cold.”

The lack of remorse mentioned by Sheriff Mancuso is likely in reference to some of the videos uploaded by the alleged perpetrators of this murder, where they can be seen mocking the victim after she was murdered inside of the Walmart.

Following the fatal incident, as the young suspects were fleeing in a vehicle, you can hear one of them clamoring that they, “just stabbed somebody at Walmart” and another saying:

“We just stabbed that bitch – we don’t give a fuck…We just stabbed that bitch in her heart”

Other videos apparently surfaced where some of the alleged suspects, obviously prior to their arrest, attempted to deliver some halfhearted apologies for the frankly cold regard they displayed when commenting on the death of that young girl.

Even though the footage from the incident is unsettling, Sheriff Mancuso noted that thanks to this video being available on Facebook and Instagram – it affords law enforcement the needed evidence to quickly bring justice in this case:

“Our whole case unfolded before us through live Facebook and Instagram… We have videos of everything that took place and it’s very disturbing, it truly is.”

During the news conference where Sheriff Mancuso was speaking about the case, he described the entire matter as being “really heartbreaking”:

“It’s really heartbreaking when we have to come in and pick up the pieces because so many families are damaged.”

It is unclear whether the juveniles in this case will be prosecuted as such or prosecuted as adults. Under Louisiana criminal law, as it relates to the adult system, second-degree murder carries with it a life sentence without parole upon conviction

A conviction of principal to second-degree murder can also result in getting a life sentence in prison, if pursued through the adult court system.

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Author: Gregory Hoyt

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