St. Maarten Murder Case: Trial in S.C. couple's slaying set to begin

An undated picture of Michael and Thelma King of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, hangs inside Topper's Restaurant in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. Prosecutors in St. Maarten announced Monday that a Jamaican man is the lone suspect in the slayings of the South Carolina couple who were found last Friday murdered in their beachfront condominium on the tiny Dutch Caribbean territory.
AP Photo/Judy Fitzpatrick
A picture of Michael and Thelma King hangs inside Topper's Restaurant in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten
AP Photo/Judy Fitzpatrick

(CBS/AP) CHARLESTON, S.C. - Family and friends of a slain South Carolina couple are headed for the Caribbean island of St. Maarten in their search for justice.

Pictures: South Carolina couple slain in their St. Maarten home

Relatives of Michael and Thelma King of Mount Pleasant will be on hand as three men stand trial for murder in the couple's stabbing death in September 2012 in their beachfront apartment on the tiny Dutch territory. The trial is due to start Tuesday, with a verdict expected in May.

Michael King was a retired insurance executive who later started a label printing company in Blythewood. He and his wife, Thelma, were part-time residents of St. Maarten and Mount Pleasant, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Sunday. The Kings had invested in a rum factory run by close island friends and planned to export the liquor from St. Maarten, which shares a small island about 200 miles east of Puerto Rico with the French dependency of St. Martin.

Police described their killing as a robbery gone bad.

"That is still our assumption," St. Maarten Solicitor General Taco Stein said.

A Jamaican security guard, a 20-year-old from Guyana and a 17-year-old from St. Maarten have been charged in the couple's deaths. They could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted, Stein said.

The Dutch legal system involves presenting the case to a judge without a jury and few witnesses. All three suspects will be tried at once, and the proceeding is expected to last up to two days.

Complete coverage of the St. Maarten Murder on Crimesider