New London jury delivers quick guilty verdict in Hinds murder case
A 12-member jury in New London Superior Court came back with a quick verdict Thursday, announcing after less than three hours of deliberation that it had found Metese Hinds guilty of murder in the Oct. 24, 2017, stabbing death of Raheeim "Rah" General.
Hinds, 48, faces up to 63 years in prison for murder and carrying a dangerous weapon after the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that he used a kitchen knife to repeatedly stab General on a fire escape landing at 49 Blackhall St.
Judge Hunchu Kwak scheduled a May 8 sentencing date, giving the Department of Adult Probation enough time to conduct a presentencing investigation.
Family and friends of General, a 33-year-old father of five children, said they were grateful to the jury and the prosecution team that had handled the case.
"He was a great man, great father and great friend," said Jamal Brown, a "brother" who grew up with General and attended the entire nine-day trial. "We loved him to death. We miss him and will always keep him in our heart."
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Thomas M. DeLillo, recently transferred full time from Geographical Area 21 court in Norwich to the court where major crimes are tried, was the lead prosecutor, with assistance from Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Paul J. Narducci, Inspector Timothy Pitkin and Victim Services Advocate Stephanie Barber.
"I'm just grateful to the jurors for their hard work and the fact that they were paying attention," DeLillo said. "I hope it brings some measure of comfort to Mr. General's family."
General's survivors also said that they were impressed that Hinds' attorney, Robert F. Kappes, had pulled them aside before the verdict was announced to offer his condolences.
Kappes, an experienced trial lawyer who Hinds had attempted to fire prior to jury selection, had challenged the evidence in pretrial motions, arguments to the court and cross-examination of witnesses.
According to the evidence, Hinds, General and others had been drinking in a third-floor apartment on Blackhall Street. The tenant who was hosting them told them to leave. A fight broke out on the fire escape landing, and an eyewitness said Hinds retrieved a knife from the kitchen of the second-floor apartment, where he was staying. Three eyewitnesses testified that Hinds stabbed General repeatedly, went inside the second-floor apartment, then returned outside to continue kicking the unconscious General even after police arrived.
General suffered stab wounds to the neck, abdomen and left arm, and the state contends that Hinds stabbed himself in the back of the leg during the frenzy.
In addition to the civilian witnesses, the state's attorneys had elicited testimony from New London police who responded, investigated and processed the crime scene, medical staff who treated General and experts from the State Forensic Laboratory who tested the evidence. DNA from both Hinds and General was on the knife and on a shirt that Hinds was wearing that night, according to their testimony.
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