Life sentence asked in King-murder trial

PHILIPSBURG--The Prosecutor's Office asked for life imprisonment Tuesday against the man suspected of the murder of Michael and Thelma King in their Ocean Club apartment in Cupecoy on September 19, 2012. The other two suspects in this case, which also includes armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant, are facing prison sentences of 28 and 24 years.

Family members and friends of the deceased middle-aged couple travelled from the United States to witness the trial. Several US media were also present to report on the case.

US nationals Michael and Thelma King were "slaughtered, because three young men decided they needed easy money," Prosecutors Dounia Benammar and Georges van den Eshof said in their joint closing speech.

The three suspects, M.K.J. (29) from Guyana, J.C.M. (18) from St. Maarten and J.J.W. (21) from Guyana, allegedly committed two robberies that day. First, they decided to rob Happy Star Chinese Restaurant in Cannegieter Street. The robbery, allegedly committed on J.C.M.'s initiative, took place at 7:50pm.

Under threat of firearms, the restaurant owner was forced to give up the contents of the cash register and a wallet.

Arriving at the scene of the crime, the police fired several shots at their getaway car. One of these shots hit the trunk of the Hyundai Accent.

After the bullet was removed and the vehicle's license plates were changed, the car and passengers drove to Cupecoy. The car was parked on the empty lot across from Blue Mall. Its three occupants climbed down the rocks and walked along the beach towards the Ocean Club's beachside apartments. Because the shutters were up and the lights were on in the King's apartment, it was decided to make a move there.

The couple were raided while they were asleep around 11:00pm. Michael King had fallen asleep while watching TV downstairs. He was awoken by two taps to his head with the butt of a BB gun.

According to the Prosecutors, suspect M.K.J. had taken him in a stranglehold from behind and put a knife to his throat, asking where the money was. The weapon was taken from a countertop in the apartment moments before. After J.J.W. had punched him in his stomach, King told them the safe was in the upstairs bedroom.

Thelma King, who was sleeping in the bedroom, was forced to open the safe. J.J.W. and J.C.M. then led her downstairs, where M.K.J. still held her husband under control. Thelma was tied to a chair, gagged and blindfolded.

Double murder suspect M.K.J. told Judge Tamara Tijhuis during Tuesday's hearing he couldn't recollect anything that had transpired that day. He had, however, confessed to the crimes to the police after he was arrested four days after the crime. He had confirmed his confession to an investigating judge, but ever since the re-enactment at the crime scene, which took place on March 8, had he stated that he couldn't remember anything.

He had told the police that Michael King's death was an accident. "I held his chin with my left hand and placed the knife on his neck with my right hand. My intention was to keep him calm. But when he saw the partners tying his wife he made a sudden move and got cut. The knife slit his neck. He then spun around, now with his face facing the chair. I came around quickly and I told the partners that he is suffering. So I then struck him in his back and the knife broke off. I told them: "Give me another knife. One of the partners [J.C.M. Ed.] gave me another knife. I jam it in the side of his neck and I think I twist the knife or pull it."

The pathologist reported two cuts to King's throat, a stab wound to his back with the point of a knife still in it and three deep stab wounds in his neck, which cut the carotid. Michael King died shortly after through blood loss.

The Prosecutor's Office is holding all three suspects accountable for the murder of Michael King. M.K.J. was the actual killer, J.C.M. his accomplice, and J.J.W. accessory to this crime, it was stated.

J.C.M. and J.J.W. were held for accessories to the murder of Thelma King, whose throat was slit by M.K.J. while the others had already left the apartment.

"On my way out I cut the woman too. I cut her on the neck with the same knife that the partner gave me," M.K.J. had told the police.

He explained his reasons for the killing during a later interview. "I felt because I had killed her husband that she would feel a lot of pain. I was fearful at that moment [that she would report to the police and that he would be sent to jail, Ed.] and wasn't thinking," he had told detectives. The woman was killed by two violent slashes, cutting her throat and trachea.

The three robbers didn't show remorse after their crimes. First, M.K.J. allegedly had washed off the blood with seawater and whisky, after which the loot, consisting of cash, an iPod and laptop and reportedly also an undisclosed amount of jewellery, had been divided. The three then closed off the night with a couple of drinks and adult entertainment at a club in Oyster Bay until the early morning hours.

The Prosecutors qualified the coldblooded-double murder as horrific, atrocious and shocking, because the victims, described as beautiful and sociable people, had "cooperated to the fullest degree and had willingly handed over anything requested."

The Prosecutor's Office held all three suspects fully accountable for their acts. Besides taking part in the Kings' murders, they were also held responsible for having committed theft with violence of the Kings, which resulted in their deaths; deprivation of liberty of Thelma King; armed robbery of Happy Star restaurant; and laundering of the proceeds of both armed robberies.

The trial will continue today, Wednesday, at 8:30am, with the attorneys' pleading on their clients' behalf.

(The Daily Herald)

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