Teen who set Rochester man on fire sentenced to 15 years to life

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A teen was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years to life in prison for killing a man by setting him on fire in Rochester.

Monroe County Family Court Judge Stacey Romeo sentenced 16-year-old Adriel Riley on Wednesday. The same judge found Riley guilty of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon during a bench trial in late February.

It was an emotional day for Adriel Riley’s family as the teen learned he’ll spend years behind bars. The family was not allowed in the courtroom. After the sentencing, they blocked the elevators and threatened the assistant district attorney, who had to be escorted through a different exit.

Riley and another teen set 53-year-old Steven Amenhauser on fire inside his apartment on Lyell Avenue in March 2021. Riley was 14 at the time of the murder.

Amenhauser suffered burns on over 70% of his body. He was sitting on a chair when he was doused with flammable liquid and set on fire. Neighbors put out the fire on Amenhauser’s body after he ran outside his apartment. First responders rushed him to Strong Hospital where he died three days later.

The judge asked Riley if he had anything to say before she sentenced him and he said no. Rochester Police Capt. Frank Umbrino spoke after the sentencing.

“I have a mixed reaction. Do I think 15 years, which in all actuality he will probably do what 8 to 10 years, is enough for the heinous that was committed? No, I don’t,” he said.

Umbrino said the gruesome nature of the case rocked the community.

“The whole thing is sad,” he said. “First and foremost it’s sad because of what happened to Mr. Amenhauser and how disgusting it was and what an evil death he had. The second sad and disgusting thing is how did we get to this point in this young man’s life, where he thought it was okay to do something of this nature.”

Assistant District Attorney Rachel Clark said she was satisfied with the outcome.

“Of course, every case kind of sticks with you. This will stick with us but our job is justice and justice was served to the extent that it could be today with his maximum sentence,” she said. “So that’s what matters, that’s what we’re here for and we hope that some sort of justice was served on behalf of Steven Amenhauser who can’t, he can’t get it for himself.”

The other teen, Zayvion Perry who was 16 at the time, was already sentenced after pleading guilty to manslaughter. He is serving 25 years in prison, plus five years post-release supervision. The judge denied his request for youthful offender status.

Amenhauser didn’t have close family in Rochester but more than 100 community members came to his funeral.