December 14, 2013
A U.S. District Court jury handed down the verdict in the case against 30-year-old Antun Lewis in the fire in an impoverished Cleveland neighborhood. Lewis also was convicted in the first trial.
Defense attorneys said Friday they believe the enormous tragedy overshadowed the evidence in the case.
“We truly believe that the charges in this case were so horrific, with the deaths of the children and the mother, that the community wanted to hold someone responsible, in spite of what the evidence showed,” attorney Angelo Lonardo said, according to The Plain Dealer.
The prosecution didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment after the verdict.
Judge Solomon Oliver, who presided at both trials, ordered the second trial, agreeing with the defense that the government had used unreliable jailhouse informants.
The defense said the informants’ testimony was prompted by money paid by the government — one man got more than $20,000 over several years — or the prospect of leniency in their own criminal cases.