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Autopsies done on U.S. couple killed in St. Maarten; suspect due in court

From Martin Savidge and Tristan Smith, CNN
updated 8:18 PM EDT, Mon September 24, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The couple's bodies will likely be handed over to kin Tuesday, prosecutors say
  • NEW: The suspect "heavily resisted" arrest; he and a police officer were "wounded"
  • Michael and Thelma King of South Carolina were found dead in their St. Maarten home
  • The suspect in their deaths will appear before a judge, who will decide if he can still be detained

(CNN) -- Autopsies on an American couple found stabbed to death in their St. Maarten home were performed Monday, a day before a suspect in their deaths appears in court, the island's solicitor general said.

The bodies of Michael and Thelma King of South Carolina were discovered Friday at their oceanfront residence in Cupecoy, in what St. Maarten's Solicitor General Taco Stein described as "an ugly scene."

Two days later, an unidentified suspect was arrested. He will appear Tuesday before a judge in the Dutch Caribbean nation, who will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to hold him longer or order his release. No charges have been filed against anyone in the case.

"There are strong indications he is involved in the crime," Stein said Monday of the suspect, without divulging details.

Identifying him only by his initials M.K.J., the St. Maarten Public Prosecutor's office described the suspect in a Monday press release as a 28-year-old, Jamaican-born man.

The prosecutor's office said the suspect "heavily resisted his arrest," engaging in a confrontation that ended with both him and a police officer "wounded." After being treated at an area hospital, the Jamaican man was taken to a police station.

"He has been cooperative to a certain extent, but was reluctant to answer critical questions," the prosecutor's office said.

The suspect's attorney, Brenda Brooks, said she'd met with the suspect Monday at a police station in St. Maarten's capital Philipsburg, where he is being held. He had signs of a "beating," according to Brooks.

Stein, who was once solicitor general for Aruba, said authorities "are not certain of the motive in the case."

"Some things are missing" from the King's home, but there were no signs of a break-in.

The killings occurred in what is "generally considered a safe area" that is popular with tourists, according to the solicitor general.

"This is something that does not happen every day," he said.

Results from the autopsies on Michael and Thelma King will be discussed by prosecutors and police, but they will not be released to the public "in the interest of the investigation," the public prosecutor's office said Monday.

In addition to Tuesday's court hearing, forensic experts and prosecutors will meet with a representative of the Dutch Forensic Institute to discuss material "secured during this investigation," the office said.

The couple's bodies will be handed over "presumably" Tuesday to their relatives, some of whom had a "lengthy conversation" with prosecutors on Sunday, according to the prosecutor.

The suspect and the slain couple didn't appear to know each other, said Stein, noting they "were not moving in the same circles."

Topper Daboul, a restaurant owner in the area, said he was a friend and business partner of the Kings.

"They were beautiful people," he said, adding he is "still in shock." "They were kind to everybody."

Zane Jackson offered a similar story, and sentiment, in an interview with CNN affiliate WIS.

Describing himself as a friend and business partner of the Kings, who helped him open a sports bar in Columbia, South Carolina, Jackson said, "They'd have given anything to anybody."

"It just seems very senseless," he said. "They were good people."

CNN's Gabriel Falcon contributed to this report.

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