By Carlotta Mohamed
A Richmond Hill man was sentenced to life in prison last week without the possibility of parole following his retrial in the execution-style death of a fellow Richmond Hill man, who was bound with electrical cords, robbed of his bank card, and then shot several times in the head before his apartment was set on fire to cover up the crime scene, the Queens DA said.
“The brutality and viciousness of this killing is mind-boggling,” DA Richard Brown said. “The victim in this case was defenseless after being beaten and restrained, but the defendant still shot him in the head and then in an attempt to cover up the crime set the apartment ablaze, potentially injuring others that lived in the building.”
In January 2017, a jury found the defendant, Stephen Peters, 27, of 95th Avenue in Richmond Hill, guilty of second-degree murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, and tampering with physical evidence, but jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the top charges, Brown said.
In May 2017, Peters was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. But he was tried again after the original jury failed to convict him of the most serious charges.
Last month, after a four-week-long trial, Peters was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder before Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak, Brown said. Peters was sentenced to life in prison on July 26 without the possibility of parole.
According to Brown, Peters’ co-defendant, Jason St. Hill, 22, who pleaded guilty to robbery in February 2017, is currently serving 12 ½ years in prison. Peters and St. Hill both entered the 116th Street Richmond Hill home of the victim, Azeem Ali, 43, shortly after midnight on Feb. 24, 2013. Ali was beaten by Peters, who tied his hands and feet with electrical cords. As St. Hill held a gun to Ali, Peters went down to the buildings basement for gasoline.
Brown further added that Peters demanded and received Ali’s bank card, along with his pin number, and then shot Ali three times in the head. In an attempt to hide the evidence, Peters poured gasoline on Ali’s dead body and around the apartment, igniting the place on fire. Firefighters responded to the apartment building to douse the flames, discovering the burned remains of Ali.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha