Victim Azeem Ali was bound with electrical cords, beaten, robbed of his bank card, and then shot in the head by Peters before his apartment was set on fire.
By Forum Staff
A Richmond Hill man has been convicted of multiple counts of first-degree murder in the vicious shooting death of a man who was bound with electrical cords, beaten, robbed of his bank card, and then shot in the head before his 116th Street apartment was set ablaze in an attempt to cover up the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
In January 2017, Stephen Peters, 27, was found guilty of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping, third-degree arson and tampering with physical evidence—however, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the top charges. Peters was subsequently sentenced to 30 years to life in prison in May 2017.
Last Wednesday, following a nearly two-week-long trial, a jury convicted Peters of those top charges: three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder.
According to trial testimony, Peters and cohort Jason St. Hill, 22, who pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in February 2017 and was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison, went to the Richmond Hill home of Azeem Ali, 43, shortly after midnight on Feb. 24, 2013. Inside the victim’s second-floor apartment, Ali was beaten by Peters, his hands and feet were tied with electrical cord, and as St. Hill held a gun on Ali, Peters went down to the building’s basement for gasoline.
Peters returned and demanded and got the victim’s bank card, along with his PIN number; he then shot Ali three times in the head. In an attempted to get rid of the evidence, Peters then poured gasoline on Ali’s body and around the apartment and set the place on fire. Firefighters responding to the apartment building to douse the flames discovered the bound and badly burned remains of Ali.
Sentencing has been set for July 25, at which time Peters faces life without the possibility of parole.
“The victim was bound at his ankles and wrists and posed no threat to the defendants, yet the decision was made to fatally shoot him and then – in an attempt to cover up their heinous, cowardly crime – set his residence on fire, thus endangering more lives,” Brown said on May 5, 2017, two days after Peters was sentenced to 30 years to life. “Both men have now been sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment – one of whom will likely be locked away for the rest of his natural life.”