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Press Release

District Man Ordered to Pay Over $200,000 in Restitution To Estate of 4-Year-Old Girl Who Died After House Fire

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Earlier Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison on Murder and Other Charges

            WASHINGTON – Jerome C. Lewis, 51, of Washington, DC, was ordered today to pay $204,503 in restitution to the estate of Samauri Michelle Jenkins, a four-year-old girl who died after he set fire to the house where she was staying in Southeast Washington.

            The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Gregory M. Dean, Chief of the District of Columbia Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (DCFEMS).

            Lewis was found guilty by a jury in October 2017 of first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances, second-degree murder, and first-degree cruelty to children. The verdict followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced to a 32-year prison term on those charges in February 2018 by the Honorable Milton C. Lee.

            The government had requested restitution for the estate of Samauri Jenkins or the imposition of a fine based on the defendant receiving a payout from an insurance company for the damage to his home and personal property.  Judge Lee convened a follow-up hearing today to consider the government’s request for orders of restitution and/or fines. In advance of today’s hearing, Judge Lee granted the government’s request to freeze Lewis’s assets.

            According to the government’s evidence, Lewis owned a home in the 2600 block of 33rd Street SE.  In late 2011, Lewis began renting the first and second floors to relatives while he lived in the basement.  In early 2013, his relationship with his tenant-relatives had become strained and he was experiencing a financial crisis.  On Feb.17, 2013, in the early hours of the morning, he set fire to his mattress located in his basement living area, causing a fire that spread throughout the basement and to the first floor of the home.

            Everyone was able to escape the home, with the exception of four-year-old Samauri Jenkins. She was rescued from a second floor bedroom by the District of Columbia Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services. She was taken to a hospital with burns and smoke inhalation, but died from her injuries two days later.

            Lewis was arrested on the morning of the fire and has been in custody ever since.

            In announcing today’s developments, U.S. Attorney Liu, Chief Newsham, Special Agent in Charge Chittum, and Chief Dean commended the work of the D.C. Arson Task Force, which is comprised of members from MPD, the Washington Field Division of the ATF, and DCFEMS. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Supervisory Paralegal Specialist Sharon Newman; Paralegal Specialist Stephanie Gilbert; Legal Secretary Dawn White; Intelligence Analyst Zachary McMenamin; Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling; Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker; Supervisory Victim/Witness Services Coordinator David Foster; Victim/Witness Services Coordinator Katina Adams-Washington; Supervisory Administrative Services Specialist Tina Wall, and Administrative Services Specialist Sallie Rynas.

            Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberley C. Nielsen and Michelle D. Jackson, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

Updated June 15, 2018

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 18-148