Hall of Shame: Pastor cares enough to kill disabled friend

By James Quiggle
December 22, 2011

Legally blind and mentally disabled, Lemuel Wallace thought he had a caring friend in Kevin Pushia.

pushiaAfter all, Pushia was a pastor, a supposed man of peace. He also was known for his work with Baltimore’s developmentally disabled.

And yes, Pushia really did care: About getting rich, and Wallace was his meal ticket. Pushia had him executed to score a $1.4-million life-insurance payout. Pushia cared so much that he even stole $50,000 from his own church to pay the hitmen. He was thousands of dollars in debt and faced foreclosure on several properties.stackofbills

Wallace was found dead in the bathroom of a Baltimore park, several bullets pumped into his head. Police had few leads until an alert insurance agent told police that Pushia was suspiciously listed as a sibling beneficiary on a $200,000 life policy in Wallace’s name.

A search of Pushia’s townhouse uncovered numerous other life policies with him as the beneficiary. Investigators also found his planning calendar. A note “L.W. project completed” was hand-scribbled the day after Wallace was murdered.

calendarpushia2Pushia was cornered, and quickly crumbled. His garbled defenses dug him deeper into an already deep hole.

He first claimed “L.W.” stood for the cleaning of his living room, then he admitted the initials referred to Wallace.

Then he strangely told police: “I had nothing to do with his death. I had something to do with his murder.”

At trial Pushia also described in detail the car owned by his suspected hitmen, but couldn’t remember the names of his own foster children.

He admitted he wanted to cash in on Wallace’s life policies but was arrested before he had a chance. But then he flip-flopped, saying his conscience didn’t allow him to cash in the policies.

When asked why he would write “L.W. project completed” in his planner, Pushia said. “I don’t even know why,” even though he’d already confessed why to police.

Pushia also confessed to the murder after being arrested, but fingered Omar Clea as the ringleader. Pushia went along with the murder only because Clea threatened to reveal Pushia’s homosexuality to his parishioners if he didn’t, he claimed.

Pushia’s alleged hitmen went free; his erratic testimony made it impossible for a jury to convict them. But Pushia went down in flames at his own trial. He received life in prison for Wallace’s murder, and 45 years for the insurance fraud.

As his explanations grew more opaque and muddled, Pushia finally admitted the obvious: “Nobody is completely truthful,” he said, even though he was the only one who couldn’t tell a straight story.

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