US Court House in New York. Photo: Google Maps
US Court House in New York. Photo: Google Maps

Three former US soldiers are on trial in New York, accused by prosecutors of being hired to kill a Filipino real-estate agent in the Philippines.

The case has given a glimpse into the world of organised crime.

Joseph Hunter, a 52-year-old former Special Operations sniper said to have become a contract killer. “Rambo”, as he was known, was allegedly hired in 2012 by a weapons and drugs trafficker named Paul Le Roux to kill Catherine Lee, a real-estate agent in the Philippines who Le Roux thought had cheated him, the Miami Herald reported.

Hunter allegedly hired Adam Samia, 43, and Carl David Stillwell, 50, to help do the job. The three men were reportedly told they would be paid $35,000 each once Lee was killed.

The three men went to the Philippines. Samia allegedly shot Lee twice in the face in the back seat of a van on a trip out of Manila. The woman’s body was found on top of a pile of garbage at the side of the road.

After they were paid, the men were ordered to return to the US. But Hunter was arrested in a sting operation by Thai police commandos in Thailand the following year and extradited back to the States. His alleged accomplices were nabbed in 2015.

On Tuesday, at the US District Court in Manhattan, Samia said he only agreed “to do legitimate, legal security work”, while Stillwell claimed he never participated in the killing of Lee. However, prosecutors claim that Stillwell admitted driving the van used for the murder.

Hunter – “Rambo” – is serving a 20-year term for plotting to kill a Drug Enforcement Agency agent. Officials said a secret video of the former US sergeant recorded him talking of killing people for Le Roux, including the Filipino real estate agent.

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