Rich Hill men shot neighbor, torched home: DA

Rich Hill men shot neighbor, torched home: DA
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

The two young Richmond Hill men charged with tying up a neighbor and setting his apartment on fire allegedly robbed and shot him in the head first in a crime that netted just $200, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Stephen Peters, 22, and Jason St. Hill, 17, were both arraigned Feb. 28 before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll on charges of second-degree murder, kidnapping, burglary, arson, robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property and tampering with physical evidence, the DA said.

Peters and Hill live on 95th Avenue near 116th Street in Richmond Hill and are accused of killing 43-year-old Azeem Ali, who lived on 116th Street near the same intersection, before burning his apartment to destroy the evidence, the DA said.

“This case will be vigorously prosecuted to ensure that justice is served,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

Peters and Hill allegedly went to Ali’s home Feb. 24 after midnight to rob him, the DA said. Ali lived in the second floor apartment of a building that included a bodega and five garages that held classic cars, race cars and a sign-making business.

After entering the apartment, Peters allegedly punched Ali and pistol whipped him, the DA said. He then is accused of using an electrical cord to tie up Ali’s feet and hands, the DA said. As St. Hill allegedly pointed a gun at Ali, Peters got some gasoline from the building’s basement, the DA said.

When he came back, Peters allegedly demanded Ali’s PIN number and ATM card, the DA said. After Ali gave the information and the card to him, Peters is charged with shooting Ali in the head, the DA said. He then allegedly poured gasoline all over the apartment and set it on fire, the DA said.

Peters and St. Hill then went to a gas station at Atlantic Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill, where they allegedly used Ali’s ATM card to get $200 in cash, the DA said.

The FDNY received the 911 call for the fire at 2:35 a.m. The fire went to a second alarm, which brought 25 units and more than 100 firefighters to the scene, the FDNY said. The blaze was extinguished within the hour, at which point Ali’s body was found, the FDNY said.

The city medical examiner determined Ali’s death was from the gunshot wound and not the fire, the DA said.

Peters and St. Hill have been held without bail, the DA said. They both face sentences of 25 years to life in prison if convicted, the DA said.

Their next court date is March 14, the DA said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.