WASHINGTON — A D.C. man has been convicted of murder in the death of a 4-year-old girl who died after he set fire to a mattress.
A jury found Jerome Lewis, 50, guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances, second-degree murder and cruelty to children. He faces a potential life sentence without the possibility of parole when he’s sentenced in January.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu explained that evidence showed Lewis had a strained relationship with the relatives paying him rent to live in his home on 33rd Street Southeast, and that he was facing a financial crisis.
Lewis set fire to a mattress in the basement, where he was living, on Feb. 17, 2013. Everyone but 4-year-old Samauri Michelle Jenkins was able to escape as flames and smoke spread through the house, Liu said.
Jenkins was rescued by D.C. firefighters but died two days later of her injuries.