05:22 GMT +316 August 2018
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    In this Sept. 26, 2013 file photo, Joseph Hunter, second from left, a former U.S. Army sniper who became a private mercenary, is in the custody of Thai police commandos after being arrested in Bangkok, Thailand

    US Ex-Military Hitmen on Trial for Murder of Filipino Real Estate Agent

    © AP Photo / Sakchai Lalit, File
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    The mercenaries, including an ex-Special Forces sniper, maintain that they had nothing to do with the 2012 execution-style murder of local property agent Catherine Lee, who became the target of a drug kingpin who felt she cheated him on a real estate deal.

    Lee, whose body was found on a pile of trash on the side of a road outside Manila with gunshot wounds to the face, was killed following a dispute with crime boss Paul Le Roux.

    Le Roux contracted the American ex-soldiers, including 52-year-old Special Forces Sergeant Joseph Hunter, 43-year-old Adam Samia, and 50-year-old Carl David Stillwell, who surveilled Lee before contacting her and presenting themselves as potential clients to murder her, prosecutors told a New York City federal court on Tuesday.

    Hunter provided Samia and Stillwell with the weapons for the job, which he called "ninja work," and promised to pay them $35,000 each, according to Assistant US Attorney Patrick Egan.

    After being arrested in 2015 in the US, an investigation of the suspected mercenaries turned up a picture of a bloodied head wrapped in a towel from the time of Lee's killing on Stillwell's phone. Stillwell also admitted to being the driver of the van in which Lee is thought to have been killed, although his lawyer insists he never joined a conspiracy murder her.

    The Lee hit was not the first time Hunter, Samia and Stillwell were used by Le Roux, according to prosecutors. "If Paul Le Roux wanted somebody killed, these guys got the call," Egan said. "For these men, more murders meant more money," he added.

    The suspected murderers' defense lawyers insisted that a lack of eyewitnesses, forensic and other conclusive evidence makes it wrong to convict their clients. They also urged jurors to refrain from trusting the testimony of Le Roux, who had been arrested separately and pled guilty in exchange for cooperation with the prosecution.

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    Tags:
    Murder Trial, contract killer, contract killing, mercenaries, United States, Philippines
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