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Crime & Cases March 7, 2013  RSS feed

ROBBERS SHOT & BURNED HIM

ATM Fraud Leads Cops To R.H. Killers
by Robert Pozarycki

Two Richmond Hill men could spend the rest of their lives in prison after being collared by detectives last Thursday, Feb. 28, for robbing and murdering a neighborhood resident, then setting a fire to cover their tracks, police reported.

Stephen Peters, 22, and Jason St. Hill, 17, both residents of 95th Avenue, were reportedly booked by members of the 102nd Precinct Detective Squad murder, kidnapping, robbery, arson and other charges in connection with the Feb. 24 death of Azeem Ali, 43, of 116th Street.

Law enforcement sources said the two suspects allegedly broke into Ali’s second-floor apartment and assaulted, bound, robbed and shot him in the head. Before they fled from the scene, they reportedly set fire to the home.

“This case will be vigorously prosecuted to ensure that justice is served,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said last Friday, Mar. 1 in a press release announcing the charges.

Authorities said Peters and St. Hill went to Ali’s residence on 116th Street near 95th Avenue at around midnight on Feb. 24 and managed to make their way inside.

Moments later, according to the charges, Peters allegedly punched and pistolwhipped Ali, then used an electrical cord to tie his hands and feet. Law enforcement sources noted that St. Hill allegedly pointed a gun at Ali while Peters went to the basement of the location and retrieved a quantity of gasoline.

When he returned, prosecutors noted, Peters demanded that Ali provide the personal identification number (PIN) to the ATM card which they obtained from. After Ali complied with his request, Peters reportedly shot him in the head.

Law enforcement sources said that the suspect then poured gasoline around the apartment and ignited it as he and St. Hill fled from the scene.

Multiple Fire Department units, the 102nd Precinct and EMS units responded to the fire, which was contained by firefighters just before 3:30 a.m. During a search of the premises, as previously reported, FDNY personnel found Ali’s body, which was severely burned.

An autopsy conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Ali died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, and that the burns occurred after his death, prosecutors noted.

During their investigation, detectives learned that Peters and St. Hill allegedly visited a gas station at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard shortly after the robbery and used Ali’s ATM card to withdraw $200 in cash.

The two suspects were tracked down and, following questioning last Thursday morning, were formally charged by detectives with seconddegree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, second-degree arson, first-degree robbery, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property and tampering with physical evidence.

According to court records, Peters and St. Hill were arraigned last Thursday night in Queens Criminal Court before Judge John Zoll, who ordered them held without bail. They are scheduled to return to court on Mar. 14.

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The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kristin J. Papadopoulos of the D.A.’s Homicide Investigations Bureau, which is supervised by Assistant District Attorneys Peter T. Reese, bureau chief, and Peter J. McCormack III, deputy bureau chief.