Three US men face life in jail over murder-for-hire killing of Filipino woman

Joseph Manuel Hunter, center, is escorted by Thai police commandos after being arrested in Bangkok during a previous incident in Thailand, in September 2013.

Three men, including a former US soldier, were found guilty in a New York court Wednesday of taking tens of thousands of dollars to murder a woman in the Philippines in 2012.

Speaking after the verdict, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman described the case in a statement as “horrifying,” with details “usually seen in action movies.”

“(These men) conspired to end the lives of people overseas whom they had never met. Today a unanimous jury convicted them for their craven indifference to human life,” he said.

US citizens Joseph Manuel Hunter, 52, Adam Samia, 43, and Carl David Stillwell, 50, were all found guilty of conspiring to kidnap and murder as part of a murder-for-hire scheme following the 12-day trial. Sentencing for the three men will take place in September, with a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Hunter was a former US army sniper instructor who left the armed forces in 2004 after more than 20 years, while Samia has previously claimed to have worked as a “contractor” for clients in the Philippines, China and Papua New Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All three men had extensive firearms training.

According to a statement by the United States Attorney’s Office, the three men agreed in 2011 and 2012 to commit a number of murders across the world in exchange for a salary, including “bonus payments” for each victim.

In early 2012, Samia and Stillwell traveled to the Philippines where Hunter gave them information on their victims and weapons to use in the killing.

After watching their female Filipino target for months, the two men murdered her by shooting her in the face multiple times then dumped her body on a pile of garbage.

She was found there later by local authorities. Both Samia and Stillwell were paid $35,000 by Hunter for killing the woman.

The investigation into the three men was an international effort, bringing together US law enforcement agencies with the Royal Thai Police and the Philippines National Police.

This prosecution is being handled by the US Attorney’s office Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.