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The Philippines

‘Ninja work’: three former US soldiers convicted of contract killing in Philippines were paid US$35,000 each by international crime boss 

Murder case provides an inside glimpse into the secret fraternity of private mercenaries willing to kill in cold blood for cash

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 10:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 10:50pm

A former US Army sniper and two other former American soldiers were convicted Wednesday in the contract killing of a real estate agent in the Philippines for an international crime boss who thought the woman had cheated him on a land deal.

Joseph Hunter, a one-time sergeant from Kentucky with a Special Forces background, Adam Samia and Carl David Stillwell were found guilty of murder-for-hire and other charges.

All three had denied they planned the 2012 execution-style hit – a case that has provided an inside glimpse into the secret fraternity of private mercenaries willing to kill in cold blood for cash.

“This horrifying real-life murder-for-hire case included details usually seen in action movies,” US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “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 from their homes in Roxboro, North Carolina, to the Philippines for what was called “ninja work”. 

They said Hunter provided firearms and silencers and told them Le Roux would pay them US$35,000 a piece to get the job done.

Samia, 43, and Stillwell, 50, pretended to be potential clients of the broker. While returning from a trip to the countryside outside Manila, Samia pulled out a .22-calibre gun and killed the broker by shooting her twice in the face as she sat in the back seat of a van, prosecutors said.

After being paid, her killers were ordered back to the United States, where they were arrested in 2015.

Defence lawyers asked jurors to keep an open mind, saying the case lacked eyewitness, forensic and other conclusive evidence needed to convict. 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.