ALFRED — The man who says he was Darlene George’s lover for more than a decade testified Thursday that the Old Orchard Beach woman was the mastermind behind the plot to kill her husband.

Rennie Cassimy, 49, said Darlene George wanted Winston George dead because he also was having an affair, and she wanted sole control of five properties they owned in Maine, New York and the Caribbean Island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, where Cassimy and Winston George grew up.

Cassimy said the plot to disguise a murder as a home invasion was developed during a conversation the week before the killing on June 20, 2008.

He and Darlene George’s brother, Jeffrey Williams, were sitting in George’s Chevrolet Blazer outside the apartment building she owned in Brooklyn, N.Y. Cassimy was a tenant there.

“She said she want him to go, she want him out,” Cassimy, whose speech is heavily accented, testified in the murder trial of George and Williams in York County Superior Court. “The plan was, we would come up the next week.”

He said Darlene George provided travel money, rope and a detailed plan of what to do.

“We discussed about tying her up, her and the boy,” Cassimy said, referring to Darlene George’s son, 13-year-old Giovanni. “Once Winston came into the house, we were supposed to kill him.”

Police found Winston George’s body around 5:45 a.m. on June 20, 2008, after receiving a 911 call from Darlene George.

In that call, and in subsequent interviews with investigators, George said three men wearing latex gloves and nylon stockings over their heads had ambushed her family in their house at 56 Smithwheel Road. Winston George had been strangled with a rope and suffocated with a plastic bag.

Earlier this year, Cassimy accepted a plea offer by prosecutors, who agreed to recommend a prison sentence of eight years. In exchange, Cassimy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. Perhaps more important to the prosecutors, he agreed to testify against Darlene George and Williams.

That testimony took up most of the day in court Thursday, and Cassimy is expected to be back on the stand this morning for cross-examination.

Cassimy said he met Darlene George at a party in New York around 1995, soon after he came to the United States from Trinidad to live with his parents. They became lovers, Cassimy said. He remained married to his wife in Trinidad, but she didn’t come to the U.S.

At the time, George was still married to her first husband, Franklin Whiteman.

Cassimy said his intimate relationship with George continued until the time of the murder, despite George’s marriage to Winston George in 2002 and the family’s move to Maine that year.

Cassimy said he often came to Maine and stayed at motels, where George would visit him. He said they spoke every day, sometimes more than 10 times, on a cell phone paid for by Darlene George.

They also occasionally saw each other during George’s trips to New York. She usually went there twice a month to visit family members and check on the small apartment building she owned. Cassimy began renting an apartment in that building in April 2008.

They continued their affair even after Cassimy was diagnosed as HIV-positive, about three or four years ago, he testified.

Cassimy said George complained about her marriage but said she didn’t want to get divorced because she didn’t want to move out of the house or split ownership of the properties.

The Georges owned two houses in Old Orchard Beach and the rental property in Brooklyn. Winston George also owned two properties in Trinidad, which he had inherited from his family.

At some point in 2008, Darlene George told Cassimy that she would be better off “if he was gone,” Cassimy testified.

He said he suggested setting up Winston George by planting marijuana or cocaine in his vehicle and reporting it to police, so he would be convicted of a drug crime and deported to Trinidad. But Darlene George was concerned that her husband would know she had set him up, Cassimy said.

That’s when George came up with the idea of a staged home invasion robbery, he said. Cassimy said he didn’t want to go along with the plan, but George made him feel guilty because of all the help she had given him.

While he acknowledged that he took part in the crime, Cassimy put the blame on Williams for the actual killing. Cassimy said it was Williams who cinched the rope around Winston George’s neck and put the plastic bag over his head.

Cassimy said Darlene George asked him if her husband was dead, so he went down to the basement to check.

Cassimy said he poked a hole in the plastic bag and poured some rum into George’s mouth. When there was no response, Cassimy said, he knew the man was dead.

Later that morning, Cassimy and Williams took a taxi to Portland and boarded a bus to Boston, then took another bus to New York.

Darlene George came to New York within a day or two of the killing, Cassimy said. She met with him and Williams, and told them that police already knew what had happened.

Williams said he would take the rap, Cassimy said.

Police arrested Cassimy in New York on June 26, 2008, and Williams turned himself in on June 30. Investigators continued the investigation into Darlene George’s role, and she was arrested on March 5, 2009.

Cassimy had no criminal record. Williams had spent 20 of the 22 years leading up to the killing behind bars, for robbery and attempted robbery. He was released less than six months before the killing.

Darlene George denies that she was involved in a romantic relationship with Cassimy. On Thursday morning, the jury listened as prosecutors and a court reporter read aloud the transcript of her testimony to a grand jury on July 7, 2008.

George said she was a close friend to Cassimy and his family, and she had been helping him with health problems and paperwork. Cassimy does not read English.

George said she had no idea that Cassimy and Williams had come to Maine on June 19, 2008.

She also said that three men, not two, ambushed her and Giovanni at the home. They wore black nylon stockings over their faces, and she didn’t recognize any of them, George said in the transcript.

Her son has testified that he saw only two men during the apparent home invasion.

George said that her marriage to Winston George was good, and that she was even seeing a fertility expert in an effort to become pregnant.

 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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