October 5, 2010

Wife gets 40 years, her brother gets life in murder of Maine man

The judge calls the murder of Winston George in his home 'particularly grisly.'

By Trevor Maxwell tmaxwell@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

ALFRED — A judge sentenced Darlene George on Monday to 40 years in prison for orchestrating the plot to kill her husband and disguise the crime as a random home invasion at their house in Old Orchard Beach.

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Darlene George is sentenced to 40 years in prison in York County Superior Court on Monday for her role in the plot to kill her husband, Winston George, at their house in Old Orchard Beach.

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Jeffrey Williams was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the 2008 murder of his brother-in-law.

Her brother Jeffrey Williams, a New York man with an extensive criminal record, was sentenced to life in prison for carrying out the plot and killing Winston George in the early morning of June 20, 2008.

Winston George was 44 when he was ambushed, strangled with a rope and suffocated with a plastic bag. His body was left on the floor of his basement, with a rum bottle lodged in his throat.

"This was a particularly grisly murder, for sure," said Justice G. Arthur Brennan, speaking Monday in the courtroom where Darlene George, 45, and Williams, 47, were tried and convicted a little more than three months ago.

A jury convicted the sister and brother of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, although both still say they are innocent.

Darlene George's longtime lover, Rennie Cassimy, 49, said he helped carry out the ambush but he blamed Williams for the actual killing. Cassimy was sentenced to eight years in prison as part of a plea agreement in which he became the key witness against the two other defendants.

Whitfield George, Winston's brother, said after Monday's hearings that he was pleased with the life sentence for Williams.

"He's the guy who put his hand on my brother," said George, accompanied by several members of the family. They are natives of Trinidad and Tobago, and have lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., for several years.

Although the family had hoped for a longer prison term for Darlene George, Whitfield George said he was comfortable with the judge's ruling.

"What she did was wrong and she'll have to pay both ways, in the court system and by God," he said.

Prosecutors said Darlene George feared that her husband was going to file for divorce, and she wanted the properties they owned in Old Orchard Beach, Brooklyn, and Trinidad and Tobago. Prosecutors also said she was angered by Winston George's ongoing affair with one of his co-workers, even though she had a lover of her own.

At 5:45 a.m. on June 20, 2008, Darlene George called 911 to report that she and her 13-year-old son, Giovanni, had been victims of a home invasion.

She told police that men wearing nylon stockings over their heads had tied up her and her son in a bedroom, then killed Winston George after he returned home from work. The men demanded money and drugs, Darlene George said, but she had only a small amount of cash to give them.

Giovanni testified at the trial that he was scared and did not know who the men were. During the attack, Giovanni told his mother that he could untie himself and help Winston George, but she told him not to do that.

The trail of evidence didn't lead police to random killers. Instead, it led to two men who were well known to Darlene George – her brother and Cassimy, a self-described "gigolo" with whom she had been having an affair for more than a decade.

Prosecutors ultimately charged all three with murder and conspiracy to commit murder, building their case with bus station surveillance videos, bank records, phone records and interviews with several people who had seen Williams and Cassimy in Old Orchard Beach.

"She may not have been the individual who beat, hogtied and suffocated Winston George, but it was her plan. She wanted him out of the picture," Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said in court Monday. "Under our law, she is equally responsible."

(Continued on page 2)

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