14-Year-Old and 16-Year-Old Charged with Murder after Setting Disabled Man on Fire

Two African-American teenagers have been indicted by a grand jury after being charged with second-degree murder and arson after intentionally lighting a disabled white man on fire in his own home in Rochester, New York. 

Zayvion Perry, 16, and Adriel Riley Jr, 14, have been indicted with second-degree murder after breaking into the home of 53-year-old Steven Amenhauser before spraying him with a flammable liquid and lighting him on fire. Mr Amenhauser, who lived alone in declining health on Lyell Avenue, died on his fourth day of treatment at the University of Rochester Medical Center on the 9th of March, after suffering second and third-degree burns to 70% of his body.

A police report states that at around 12:30 pm on Friday 5th of March, Amenhauser walked to a store before returning to his residence. Five minutes later, Amenhauser ran out of his house engulfed in flames where a mail worker proceeded to smother the flames with his jacket. The two teens were found nearby, an investigator confirming that they made spoken admissions at the scene. Additionally, an affidavit by Rochester Police Department Investigator Nicholas Mazzola stated that Perry admitted to “attempt[ing] to ignite the floor area" around Amenhauser’s chair, with Riley proceeding to “set fire to the victim."

Captain Frank Umbino of the Rochester Police Department said Amenhauser had been adopted and consequently had no surviving family at the time of his death. His longtime girlfriend had passed away in October. At a press conference, Umbino stated: 

“I’m telling you a little bit about [Amenhauser] because there’s nobody else to speak for him. The kids, they hung around in the neighbourhood, and if anybody knows that neighbourhood, everybody kind of knows everybody. So, they certainly knew Steven, but there was no type of familial relationship.”

Umbino went on to state that it was unclear whether Perry and Riley followed Amenhauser home, or what led to them being inside the residence, saying that the motive was unclear.

Riley committed two robberies at knifepoint in September last year, and both teens were charged in February for stealing a car. Following the robberies, Police Chief James VanBrederode stated: "Nobody is winning. Nobody is winning under this current system," with both Perry and Riley’s parents facing charges relating to endangering the welfare of a child. VanBrederode committed to holding parents responsible for the lack of supervision of their children, stating: “this has got to stop. Police can't be the parents of these kids. Someone has to intervene.”

The accused teenagers, both of whom have prior familial court records, appeared on Wednesday, the 17th of March, from the Rochester Children's Detention Center. At the virtual hearing, Riley held his head in his hands and repeatedly said, "I didn't do it. I didn't do it." He then stood and said, "I didn't kill him." Yesterday, a grand jury voted to indict the two teenagers, with the teens scheduled to appear at court in the coming weeks. 



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