Brothers Acquitted In Alleged Murder-For-Hire Plot
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A jury has reached a verdict in the case against two brothers accused of killing a mentally disabled man.
Weijia Jiang reports with the jury’s decision and the emotional reaction.
Late Wednesday, a jury found two brothers accused of killing a man who was blind and mentally disabled in a murder-for-hire plot not guilty.
James Clea, 33, and Kareem Clea, 27, were both charged with conspiracy. Kareem Clea was also acquitted of first-degree murder and various handgun violations. The pair clung to each other, crying, when the verdict was announced.
Only one family member spoke out.
“Is this what I wanted? You gotta be kidding me. You think I don’t want my kids home? Thank you, Jesus, that’s all I can say. Thank you, Jesus,” that family member said.
Last year, the scheme’s mastermind, Baltimore pastor Kevin Pushia, plead guilty to ordering the hit against 37-year-old Lemuel Wallace, who lived in a group home. He also revealed a motive on the record, admitting he was trying to fraudulently collect $1.4 million in life insurance from Wallace.
Prosecutors say Pushia paid the Cleas $50,000 in church funds to kill his victim.
Defense attorneys say in some way, it was the Clea brothers who were victimized.
“This man was not honest. He was a scammer; he was a con artist,” said Kareem Clea’s attorney, James Gitomer.
Lawyers say it was Pushia who lured the Cleas into the scheme but say he contradicted himself on the stand.
“They relied on a very unreliable human being and this is the right verdict,” said James Clea’s attorney, Lawrence Rosenberg.
While the brothers walk free, Pushia remains behind bars, waiting to be sentenced.
Baltimore’s City State’s Attorney said in a statement he is disappointed with the verdict.