Three men are appealing their sentences for the robbery and killings of Mount Pleasant residents Michael and Thelma King on the island of St. Maarten.
Island prosecutors recently informed the victims’ relatives that the suspects are appealing sentences handed down last month in the case, Todd King, Michael King’s brother said,
Prosecutors had expected the appeals, which they’ve said is fairly common in such cases. Under the Dutch system, the case will likely be re-tried before a panel of three judges later this year.
“It’s just part of the process there,” Todd King said.
During a court hearing last month in the island capital of Philipsburg, Judge Tamara Tijhuis found 29-year-old Meyshane Kemar Johnson and two other men guilty in the gruesome September killing. Johnson, the man who slit the couple’s throats, received a life prison term.
Johnson’s co-defendants, Jeremiah Chevon Mills, 18, and Jamal Jefferson Woolford, 21, received 28 years and 22 years, respectively. Testimony during the trio’s two-day trial in April indicated that Mills and Woolford played lesser roles than Johnson in the actual killings.
Johnson’s attorney, Brenda Brooks, vowed at the time to fight for a more lenient sentence on appeal, with plans to challenge procedural mistakes made by prosecutors in regard to a court summons for her client.
Solicitor General Taco Stein has said the court already addressed those issues, and he doesn’t expect that argument to have any traction on appeal.
Johnson claimed at trial to have no recollection of Sept. 19, the night of the murders. But he and his co-defendants had earlier provided investigators with a clearer picture of what happened.
Johnson, Mills and Woolford entered the Kings’ Cupecoy villa to rob them after committing another hold-up at a Chinese restaurant earlier that same evening.
Prosecutors said that while Johnson held Michael King at knifepoint, Mills and Woolford tied Thelma King to a chair and gagged and blindfolded her. Johnson reportedly slit Michael King’s throat and repeatedly stabbed him, snapping the knife blade in King’s back.
After Mills tossed him a fresh knife, Johnson completed the killing before taking the new blade to Thelma King while she was helpless and bound with pieces of a shredded towel.
The suspects are believed to have escaped with about $80,000 in jewelry and cash.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.