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Suspect In 1978 Newark Killings Free On Bail

Lee Evans Walks Away After Making Near-$1 Million Bail
Photo/CBS

Photo/CBS

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Lee Evans, charged with killing five teenage boys, including Michael McDowell , in Newark 32 years ago, posted bail and walked away from the Essex County Jail on Friday.

Without any comment, he left in a pick-up truck, crouched in the passenger seat, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reports.

“It’s just disgraceful, it’s insulting,” McDowell’s sister, Terry Lawson, said.

McDowell was 16 when he was murdered and his body was never found.

The other teens were Melvin Pittman, Randy Johnson, Alvin Turner and Ernest Taylor.

Prosecutors said that on Aug. 20, 1978, the boys were lured into an abandoned house, locked inside while it was set ablaze as payback for stolen marijuana.

After three long decades, the break in the case came with the arrests of Evans and his cousin, Philander Hampton, who prosecutors said implicated Evans.

“Unbelievable,” Lawson said, “He’s actually out on 32 years to the day.”

Evans attorney described him as a hard working family man who had no prior criminal record and passed a lie detector test.  Bail was initially set at $5 million and then reduced twice, until it was just under $1 million — an amount Evans’ family members were able to raise using three pieces of property.

Defense Attorney Michael Robbins said the prosecution’s case boils down to Evans’ word against his cousins.

“There is no evidence against Mr. Evans.  All it is an allegation and an accusation,” Robbins said.

Lawson said the victims’ families know how to be patient with faith that justice will prevail.

“Lee Evans can walk the streets like he has but now he is walking these streets with a heavy load, “ Lawson said.

Jury selection in Evans’ trial is to begin in early January.