A former US Army sniper and two other ex-soldiers have been convicted for the contract killing of a real estate agent in the Philippines.
As we reported in July 2015, the three mercenaries were arrested for shooting the woman, who was accused of cheating an international crime boss on a land deal.
Joseph Hunter, a former Special Forces sergeant from Kentucky, Adam Samia and Carl David Stillwell were found guilty of murder-for-hire and other charges.
All three had denied they planned the 2012 hit — a case that has shone light on a secret fraternity of mercenaries willing to kill for cash.
“This horrifying real-life murder-for-hire case included details usually seen in action movies,” US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement after their conviction yesterday (Thursday, April 18).
“Hunter, Samia, and Stillwell conspired to end the lives of people overseas whom they had never met.”
Prosecutors said the 52-year-old Hunter was working as a security chief for weapons and drug trafficker Paul Le Roux when he recruited Samia and Stillwell to travel to the Philippines for what was called “ninja work”.
They said Hunter provided weaponry and told them Le Roux would pay them $35,000 each to get the job done.
Samia, aged 43, and Stillwell, 50, pretended to be potential clients of the broker. While returning from a trip to the countryside outside of Manila, Samia pulled out a gun and shot the broker twice in the face as she sat in the back seat of a van, prosecutors said.
Her body was found on a pile of garbage by the side of the road.
An investigation turned up a picture on Stillwell’s phone of a bloody head wrapped in a towel. He also admitted being behind the wheel of the van during the shooting.
After being paid, her killers were ordered back to the United States. They were eventually arrested in 2015.
Defence attorneys asked jurors to keep an open mind, saying the case lacked eyewitnesses, forensic and other cast-iron evidence. They also told them not to trust “shady government witnesses” like Le Roux, who had pleaded guilty and was cooperating.
All three face up to life in prison. Hunter is already serving 20 years over a plot to kill a federal agent following his arrest in Thailand in 2013.