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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Northern District of Ohio

For Immediate Release

February 14, 2011

Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney

Contact: Michael Tobin, Community Affairs Specialist
(216) 622-3651

Federal Jury Finds Man Guilty of Setting Fire that Killed 9 People in Cleveland, Ohio

A federal jury found Antun Lewis guilty of setting the May 2005 fire that killed 9 people in Cleveland, Ohio, United States Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach announced today. Lewis, 37, of Cleveland, is scheduled to be sentenced May 10, 2011. He was convicted of one count of arson in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.

Justice took a longer time coming, but justice was delivered, Dettelbach said. This case came about because of the incredible work and cooperation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Cleveland Police and Fire Departments, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, and the prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

We hope this verdict brings some small measure of comfort to the families of the deceased, Dettelbach said.

This case highlights the fact that arson is a violent crime capable of destroying lives in addition to property, said Robert J. Browning, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Columbus Field Division. The ATF agents and prosecutors in this case were unwavering in their dedication to the victims and their pursuit of justice.

The arson at 1220 East 87th Street on May 21, 2005, killed eight children and one adult, making it the deadliest intentionally set fire in Cleveland’s history. It occurred during a children’s sleepover birthday party, according to trial testimony.

Killed were: Fakih Jones, age 7; Malee’ya Williams, age 12; Shauntavia Mitchell, age 12; Earnest Tate, Jr., age 13; Miles Golden Cockfield, age 13; Antwon Jackson, Jr., age 14; Moses Williams Jr., age 14; Devonte Carter, age 15, and Medeia Carter, 33.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David J. Sierleja, Robert W. Corts, Michael L. Collyer and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Pinkey Carr following an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Cleveland Police Department and Cleveland Fire Department.