Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that an Essex County jury convicted Rolando Terrell, 40, of Newark for the September 8, 2008 murders of Candes McLean, 40; her daughter, Talia McLean, 18; her niece, Zakiyyah Jones, 18; and her boyfriend’s daughter, Latrisha Curruthers-Fields, 13, all of Irvington.
Terrell was found guilty of four counts of murder and four counts of felony murder.
On Sept. 8, 2008 Terrell came to Candes McLean’s Columbia Avenue home in Irvington to rob her, believing she had drugs or money in the house. He knew there were no adult men in the home because McLean’s boyfriend was in prison. Terrell shot all four victims and set the house on fire.
Anijah McLean, Candes McLean’s then 19-year-old daughter, survived by hiding in a closet. She saved her 16-month-old nephew by grabbing him and running from the burning house.
The jury reached today’s verdict after deliberating for approximately nine hours over four days. Terrell, a high ranking member of the Bloods gang whose street name is ‘Ratman,’ was indicted in 2009 on 16 counts, including two robbery charges, four counts of murder, aggravated arson, and multiple weapons offenses.
In April 2011, a jury deadlocked on the murder charges, finding Terrell guilty of the robbery, conspiracy to commit arson and two gun charges. The Honorable Joseph Cassini III, J.S.C, declared a mistrial on the murder charges. Subsequently, a decision was made by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office to retry Terrell on the murder and felony murder counts.
Terrell used a 9 mm handgun to kill the victims and then set the house on fire, according to Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Roger Imhof who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Naazneen Khan.
“Even though this defendant was already serving a life sentence as a result of the robbery and conspiracy convictions, we believed it was important to retry him on the murder counts. Four lives were taken. Given the violent nature of the crimes, we believed he should be held accountable for the brutal and senseless murder of these innocent women and children,” said Khan.
“We hope the verdict will bring a measure of comfort to the family members who have been through two trials and suffered enormously”, said Imhof. “We thank the jurors for their just and courageous verdict, which ensures that a very dangerous man will never threaten the public again.”
In 2001, Terrell was tried for another murder of a rival gang member but was acquitted after offering a self-defense defense.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 12. Terrell faces life in New Jersey state prison.