Erick Perez's sentencing this week for second degree assault and unlawful sexual conduct brings to a close the prosecution of a highly unusual case that led to the conviction of five other young men -- some of them teenagers when the crime was committed.
It started with a party. And it ended with a fourteen year old on fire.
An affidavit on view below in its entirety features a variety of accounts about what happened at the South Decatur Street bash that ended badly during the wee hours of Valentine's Day 2011, and most of them conflict with each other early and often. Among the more cogent narratives, however, is one from an unidentified young woman, who noted that attendees included host Perez, as well as Cody Cummings, Damian Sibayan, David Ingram, Michael Bellefuille and Robert Freeman.
Consumables at the gathering included alcohol, marijuana and Nyquil, which the woman said Perez and Cummings were glugging.
Sometime during the festivities, the victim showed up and began to partake of all the party favors -- and he also appears to have become the object of some nasty sport. The woman said Cummings and another attendee had taken turns placing the boy in choke holds until he passed out. Another guest struck the kid in the temple, supposedly at his own request, also causing him to lose consciousness.
Meanwhile, the woman said that various attendees were lighting themselves on fire using spray cans and WD-40, then quickly extinguishing the flames. At that point, the kid wanted to get in on the fun and asked to be set ablaze as well. This wish was soon granted. According to the woman, Cummings put lighter fluid on him, Perez lit him on fire and Ingram captured the conflagration with a cell phone.
The video was a big hit despite the fact that the kid was screaming in agony and clearly needed medical attention. But Perez allegedly nixed calling 911, since he didn't want cops showing up at the house.
The police wound up coming anyhow, after the victim was transported to The Children's Hospital with second- and third-degree burns and unspecificed breaks and fractures to hard tissue. Perez subsequently denied to investigators that the kid had been at his house at all -- although he later switched his story. He stressed that the fire-setting had been at the young teen's request, albeit after he'd gotten zonked on booze and Triple C's, a cough medication loaded with DMX. He added that Ingram had tried to upload the video of the flaming boy to YouTube but failed.
In the end, Bellefeuille and Freeman walked away with the lightest sentences for this merriment gone terribly wrong: two years' worth of probation. In contrast, Ingram and Cummings both received sentences of five years in prison, while Sibayan earned seven and Perez got eight. Clearly, it didn't wind up being a happy Valentine's Day for anyone involved.
Look below to see the mug shots of Perez and company.
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