Suspect in murder of SC couple appears in St. Maarten court - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Suspect in murder of SC couple appears in St. Maarten court

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Mike and Thelma King (Source: The King family) Mike and Thelma King (Source: The King family)
This is the home where the murders happened. (Source: Rion Spangler) This is the home where the murders happened. (Source: Rion Spangler)

A man accused of murdering a South Carolina couple in St. Maarten went before a judge Wednesday.

The attorney for Meyshane Johnson told CNN Wednesday her client appeared in court just before noon Wednesday.  Brenda Brooks said the hearing lasted about 15 minutes.

Brooks said the judge confirmed Johnson's name, read him his rights and told him why he was being detained. When asked if he had anything to say about the allegations, Brooks said Johnson chose to maintain his right of silence.

Brooks has said her client denied to her any involvement with the murders. Brooks said Johnson is charged with "Robbery of the Happy Star Chinese restaurant, embezzlement of a car and murder/manslaughter" in the deaths of Michael and Thelma King.

It is possible other charges could be added.

The proceedings were closed to the press and public but Solicitor General Taco Stein said later that the magistrate had ruled there was enough evidence to detain him as a suspect in the killing of Michael and Thelma King of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Prosecutors must return to court in eight days if they want to continue holding Johnson.

Friends from South Carolina say they were always welcome. Mike and Thelma King would say "Just buy a plane ticket, and we'll take care of the rest."

But on a Friday in September, inside their Caribbean villa, the couple known for living the good life was murdered.

"The police described the crime scene as gruesome, horrible," said Taco Stein, St. Maarten's chief prosecutor.

Officers say Thelma was tied to a chair, and Mike's body was nearby, propped on the floor. Even a seasoned prosecutor says it's a case that stands out.

"But this, this sticks to your brain because it's a couple what comes here, is genuinely liked, and they end up this way and that's the outcry in our society," said Stein. "People are really abhorred by it."

Stein won't say much about the 28-year-old suspect, but a security company the suspect worked for did have something to say. They released this statement, saying, "Our company would first like to say that we condemn this barbaric act to Michael and Thelma King to the highest degree."

Still, Stein says that man is the suspect and there is a possibility another person may have been in on it. He says what happened to the couple who was soon to open a St. Maarten rum business has shaken up the island they seemed to love and it's done much more to the South Carolinians that were always welcome.

"We are upset by what happened and we send our sympathy to their friends and loved ones because we know what it must be like to lose a couple you love very much," said Stein. "We're doing everything we can to bring clarity to them."

Some of the family is still in St. Maarten as the bodies are officially given back over to family. Family here in Columbia has been working on family arrangements. We'll let you know when they are made.

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