ALFRED – An Old Orchard Beach woman recruited her lover and her brother from New York to stage a home invasion and kill her husband because her marriage had unraveled, a prosecutor told jurors Monday during opening statements of a murder trial in York County Superior Court.

Darlene George’s lawyer said that while she may have been unhappy in her six-year marriage to Winston George, the relationship wasn’t unraveling and she was a victim, not a conspirator.

Darlene George and her brother Jeffrey Williams are charged with murdering 44-year-old Winston George on June 20, 2008.

Rennie Cassimy, who says he was having a long-term affair with Darlene George, has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. He is expected to be a key witness for the state.

“Why did Winston George have to die?” said Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea. “It boils down to this: infidelity.”

Cassimy and Darlene George were so close that they traveled together to his native country, Trinidad and Tobago, just two months before Winston George was killed, Zainea said.

And in the weeks and days leading up to George’s death, cell phone contact increased between Darlene George, Cassimy and Jeffrey Williams, the prosecutor said.

“A plan was hatched. That plan involved Winston’s death,” Zainea said.

“He was cut repeatedly in his head with a knife. He was hog-tied from his ankles to his neck and strangled. A plastic bag was placed over his head and cinched tightly, suffocating him,” Zainea told the jury. And an empty rum bottle was lodged in Winston George’s throat.

Paul Aranson and Lawrence Goodglass are the lawyers representing Darlene George. Joel Vincent represents Williams.

In his opening statement, Aranson asked the jurors to be fair to his client, and to use their common sense.

Darlene George earned more than $40,000 a year at her job, he said. She enjoyed her life in Maine and was planning to take a trip to New York with her 13-year-old son, Giovanni, on June 21, 2008, the day after her husband was killed.

Aranson also disputed Zainea’s characterization of the relationship between George and Cassimy. He said the two were not romantically involved at the time of the killing because Cassimy is HIV-positive.

If George had asked Cassimy to murder her husband, why didn’t she promise something of value in return? Aranson asked the jury.

Vincent, the lawyer for Williams, didn’t discuss his client’s alleged role in the crime during his opening statement. Instead, he reminded the jury that the defendants are afforded the presumption of innocence, and the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to the state’s version of events, Cassimy and Williams traveled by bus from New York to Maine on June 19, 2008. That day, Darlene George allegedly bought two masks and a duffel bag at a military surplus store.

George took her son out to dinner and shopping, and they returned home around 10:30 p.m.

According to a 911 call made by Darlene George at 5:45 a.m. on June 20, three masked intruders were in the home on Smithwheel Road. The men had guns and knives, and they tied up George and Giovanni while they ransacked the house, she told the emergency dispatcher.

She said that she heard her husband come home and fight with the men, and that she didn’t know where he was.

Police arrived within a few minutes of the 911 call. They found blood in an upstairs hallway, leading down the stairs and into a room in the basement. That is where the body of Winston George was found.

Prosecutors say Cassimy and Williams drove Winston George’s sport utility vehicle to a restaurant in Old Orchard Beach, and from there they took a taxi to the bus station in Portland on the morning of June 20. The men took a bus back to New York, Zainea said.

The trial will continue today with the prosecution presenting its case. The trial is expected to last into next week. If they are convicted of murder, George and Williams will each face 25 years to life in prison.

 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: [email protected]