'I didn't do it!' 16-year-old yells at his murder arraignment in death of man set on fire

Berkeley Brean
Updated: March 17, 2021 09:25 PM
Created: March 17, 2021 06:13 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Two teenagers charged with murder in the death of a man set on fire pleaded not guilty in a virtual court arraignment Wednesday.

The same two teenagers were arrested together by Gates Police two months ago for being in a stolen car. 

Gates Police charged one teen's father and the other teen's mother.  

The Gates chief says the charge was for not supervising their children and not knowing where they were. But six weeks after those tickets were written, Rochester Police say the same two teenagers lit a man on fire and he died three days later. 

The teenagers, 16-year-old Jayvion Perry and 14-year-old Adriel Riley Jr., are in the Children's Detention Center on no bail. 

The prosecutor called this a "brutal and vicious crime."

The victim is Steven Amenhauser, a man who grew up in Texas. Police say he lived alone in a Lyell Avenue apartment after his long-time girlfriend died in October. Monroe County Legislator Vince Felder told News10NBC the county will pay for Amenhauser's funeral. Felder sponsored a bill to raise the amount of money the county can spend on an indigent funeral from $1,250 to $2,000. The bill passed unanimously at the county legislature meeting on March 9.

Capt. Frank Umbrino, RPD Major Crimes: "Unfortunately there was no family in his life at the time of his death. So the reason I'm telling you a little bit about him is because there is nobody else to speak for him."

Umbrino described Amenhausser as "vulnerable" and in "declining health." 

Police say Amenhauser died three days after Perry and Riley doused him with a flammable liquid and set him on fire.

In a virtual court hearing Wednesday, Perry yelled out "I didn't do it. I didn't do it. I told them!"

Jessica Naclerio, the attorney for Riley, told Family Court Judge Stacey Romeo that Riley "helped to stop the fire." 

Gates Police say Perry and Riley junior were arrested at 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 30 for having a stolen car.

Chief Jim VanBrederode, Gates Police: "We called their parents in. Parents came in. Neither of them knew where their kids were and in our opinion, that was their failure to supervise their kids."

So Gates Police charged Perry's mother and Riley's father with endangering the welfare of a child. The policy started three years ago when New York reformed the way minors are handled after they get arrested. 

VanBrederode: "And let's start holding someone accountable. And not that we want to put them in jail but it's about waking up somebody to say hey—you're the parent. The child is 14. The child is 16. You have a job to do."

Brean: "Is that working do you think? Ticketing parents?"

VanBrederode: "I don't know because we've been doing this for about three years. We've probably done it about eight to 10 times in the past three years."

Before the court, I visited the homes of Perry and Riley. 

Riley's sisters answered the door and I introduced myself and said I would like to talk to Adriel's mother and father. The sisters relayed a message from their mother that she wasn't interested in talking. 

Gates Police say Riley was also charged with third degree robbery after he robbed a deaf man in a parking lot on Chili Avenue on Sept. 27, 2020. 

There are mixed reviews on whether or not charging parents for things their children are accused of doing works. Riley's father and Perry's mother are scheduled to be arraigned on their endangering ticket next Tuesday night in Gates Town Court.

Perry and Riley are eligible to testify at the grand jury Friday. They have a scheduled hearing to see if they should remain detained Monday afternoon.

The county is working with RPD and a neighborhood church to make funeral arrangements for Amenhauser.

News10NBC is expecting to get more information sometime on Thursday.


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