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Ohio man found guilty in Cleveland's deadliest house fire

Source: Reuters - Fri, 13 Dec 2013 11:12 PM
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with guilty verdict)

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND, Dec 13 (Reuters) - A federal jury on Friday found a man guilty of setting a blaze that killed eight children and a woman in the deadliest house fire in Cleveland's history, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Antun Lewis, 29, was convicted of arson and faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced in March, said Mike Tobin, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Cleveland.

Lewis had been convicted two years ago of arson, but had been granted a new trial by a federal judge who had found that prosecutors relied too heavily on unreliable witnesses in the earlier trial, including jailhouse informants.

Lewis's new trial began in November before U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. and was turned over to the jury late on Thursday. Oliver previously ruled that the defendant's IQ was too low for him to be eligible for the death penalty.

Lewis was accused of using gasoline to set a fire that killed Medeia Carter and eight children, aged 7 to 14, who were attending a birthday sleepover at her house in 2005.

The case was prosecuted in federal court because Carter was receiving federal housing assistance to pay for her home. (Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey, Chris Reese and Andrew Hay)

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