“Clinton Avenue Five” case nearing its conclusion

The jury is deliberating as to whether to convict Lee Evans of murdering Melvin Pittman, Randy Johnson, Michael McDowell, Alvin Turner and Ernest Taylor, five teenage boys who disappeared together from Newark, New Jersey back in 1978. Evans and two accomplices, Philander Hampton and Maurice Woody-Olds (they were cousins), allegedly trapped them in a house and set it on fire.

Woody-Olds, being dead, is beyond the reach of our justice. Hampton pleaded guilty and testified against Evans in exchange for a ten-year sentence AND the promise of $15k once he gets out!

Evans chose to represent himself, which is really a terrible idea — there’s an old adage that a person who represents himself at a trial has a fool for a client. But he did have an actual lawyer “assisting” his case. We shall see how this plays out.

Man Accused of Burning 5 Boys Alive: I’m Innocent
Jury weighing charges in 1978 deaths of 5 NJ teens
Closing arguments expected Friday in trial of NJ man accused of burning 5 teens alive in 1978
Jurors Weigh Five Deaths and One Unpredictable Defendant’s Fate
New Jersey Star-Ledger coverage of the whole trial

More news on the Clinton Avenue Five murders

As promised, the police have released more info. The suspects are the aforementioned Lee Anthony Evans, as well as Philander Hampton, both in their fifties. A third suspect, Maurice Woody-Olds, died in 2008. The three men are all cousins. As to motive, this article says: Police say Evans routinely hired teens to help with odd jobs, and they believe the boys broke into one of the suspects’ apartments and stole marijuana. Drugs. I suspected as much. Getting involved with drugs is like poking Death with a stick.

And here’s how it happened:

The five teenagers were led into an abandoned house on Camden Street in Newark, where they were locked inside at gunpoint, authorities said at the conference. The house was then burned to the ground.

God, what a horrible way to die.

This has made a big splash in the news, making headlines as far away as Malaysia. Here are some articles:

The New Jersey Star-Ledger
The Associated Press
The Alternative Press