Part II: A Tropical Island Trial

The Defense Says There Is No Case

After more than a year in prison, the four men - Alex Benedetto, Michael Spicer, Evan George and William Labrador - had their day in court.

Their families hired a team of high-priced lawyers - six lawyers from the Caribbean, and three more from the U.S.

Facing them was 35-year-old prosecutor Terrence Williams, who argued that Lois McMillen had cuts on her hands from trying to defend herself - a fight that began in McMillen's car.

His case is based on an investigation led by deputy police commissioner John Johnston, a Scottish homicide detective with 30 years experience, and evidence found near the scene.

Under British law, cameras are forbidden in the courtroom, but Williams was able to take the entire court - including jurors, the judge and the defendants - on a dramatic tour of the crime scene.

Williams believes that McMillen was trying to make it to the police station, less than 150 yards away from where her body was found. And he was able to show the jury the precise spot where McMillen's struggle ended.

Police collected 85 items from the house - clothing, shoes, even nail clippings - and Scotland Yard was brought in to investigate the stains on Spicer's shirt and sandy shoes. Tests showed that the specks on Spicer's shirt was blood that could have come from McMillen - and that the sand on the shoes matched the sand where McMillen's body was found.


Although the evidence against the men was largely circumstantial, prosecution's biggest weapon was an alleged confession from Labrador by his cellmate Jeff Plante.

Plante, a Texas businessman who was in jail awaiting trial for passing bad checks, said Labrador told him about the crime: "Mr. Labrador asked me if I thought God would forgive him if he had anything to do anything with killing the girl, Lois McMillen ... I asked him whether or not he in fact had anything to do with killing Ms. McMillen ... and he said yes."

"They were in an argument driving along. It got heated, I guess, and she attempted to pull into a police station here on the island, and one thing led to another and that it got out of hand. And he said that he had taken her and drowned her by putting his foot on the back of her neck," says Plante, whose account of what Labrador told him directly matched the autopsy report.

For authorities, Plante pulled the case all together. And to the victim's parents, the evidence seems convincing.

"I feel that at least possibly two of them are really responsible for beating her to death. And probably the others are involved and know what happened," says Lois' mother, Josephine McMillen, who believes that Labrador and Benedetto are the killers.

But the defense wants the judge to dismiss all the charges, claiming there just isn't enough evidence implicating any of the four men in McMillen's murder.

"I think the McMillens wanted someone as a scapegoat," says Labrador. "I can understand their loss. I can understand their sorrow but you do not convict innocent human beings."

The defense got a boost when results from Scotland Yard lab couldn't produce conclusive evidence from blood and DNA found on Spicer's shirt and the grains of sand found on his shoes. The defense says the forensic evidence prosecutors did present was meaningless.

After hearing a month's worth of testimony, the judge announced his decision - a ruling that seemed to surprise the defendants. He dismisses the murder charges against all except Labrador.

After a year and a half in prison, George, Spicer and Benedetto were free to go. Labrador was left behind, but his family seemed more certain than ever that he too would be a free man.


Labrador was sitting in a Tortolan prison largely because of Plante's testimony. But Labrador's lead attorney, Richard Hector, was about to show a different side to Plante and reveal his far from reputable past. He pointed out that Plante, 59, has been married 10 times, and has had a long career as a con man.

After six weeks, the trial finally ended. The judge gave his instructions to the jury, which is allowed under British law, and says he found some of Labrador's story implausible - but that much of Plante's detailed testimony could be true. With that, he sent the jury off to make up its own mind.

After almost eight hours of deliberation, the jury came back with a verdict. Labrador was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

"I'm sitting there waiting for not guilty and then life in prison and they proceed to handcuff me, my mother screams, they escort me out of there," recalls Labrador.

Labrador's friends and family are furious, lashing out at Lois McMillan's parents. Josephine McMillen says that her heart has been lifted. But was justice served?


Labrador sat in prison and languished there for another two years after his conviction. But since 48 Hours last broadcast this report in January 2002, Labrador faced his very last shot at freedom this past February, when he appealed to the island's highest court based in London.

The news couldn't have been better. The British Court threw out Labrador's conviction and ordered him released.

In its ruling, the judges labeled Jeffrey Plante, the prison informant who claimed Labrador confessed to him, a "compulsive liar."

On April 7, 2003, after serving nearly four years for Lois McMillen's murder, 39-year-old William Labrador walked out of prison a free man.

"Very relieved," says Labrador. "It's been a long journey."

As Labrador returned to New York and a new life, Lois McMillen's parents and family are trying to put the case behind them. "It's been emotionally exhausting," says Russell McMillen. "We lost a beautiful, beautiful young woman. Gone. The rest of it is after the fact. All of it."

Even though her doctors advised against it, Lois McMillen's mother traveled to London for the court proceedings where William Labrador was set free. She told reporters she was disappointed, and was still convinced Labrador killed her daughter. But her health deteriorated after that. She died this summer.

As for Labrador, he's been back from Tortola for four months now. His family, however, says they owe about a half-a-million dollars in legal fees.

Part I: Prisoners In Paradise