Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today an Essex County jury convicted Rolando Terrell, 39, of Newark on robbery, conspiracy and weapons charges. The jury deadlocked on four counts of murder, four counts of felony murder and arson.
“We believe the jurors’ findings on the guilty counts are appropriate,’’ said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray. “We are looking forward to preparing for the sentencing hearing on those counts for which the defendant was found guilty. We will consider whether or not to go to trial again on the hung counts following the Court’s imposition of sentence.’’
In a 17-count indictment Terrell was accused of a quadruple homicide. He was charged with the Sept. 8, 2008 murders of Candes McLean, 40; her 18-year-old daughter, Talia McLean; her niece, Zakiyyah Jones, also 18; and her boyfriend’s 13-year-old daughter, Latrisha Carruthers-Fields.
The state alleged Terrell and another man went to McLean’s Irvington house, knowing there were only women there, to rob the victims. The state maintained he shot four of the occupants of the home in the head and then torched the house to cover-up his crime.
The jury deadlocked on the murder charges but found Terrell guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, conspiracy to commit arson and two weapons charges. In a separate subsequent trial Terrell was also found guilty of violating the law by possessing a weapon even though he is a convicted felon.
“As prosecutors we must accept the jury’s verdict. However, on behalf of the family, we are disappointed with the verdict in that it does not bring closure. That disappointment is tempered by the fact that the counts of conviction enable the state to seek life in prison without possibility of parole,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Roger Imhof, who tried the case with former Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Y. Iu.
When he is sentenced on June 1 by the Honorable Joseph Cassini, III, the state will seek to have Terrell sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole under the Three Strikes Law because of his prior record. Terrell was previously convicted of robbery, aggravated assault and weapons charges. He was also charged with murder and tried in a prior case but the jury only found him guilty of weapons offenses in that trial.
“Because of the defendant’s extensive prior record we will seek to have him sentenced under the Three Strikes law,’’ said Imhof.