Shooting Ruled A Murder

Children Watched Mother’s Slaying

July 26, 1995|By TREVOR JENSEN Staff Writer

“I’m going to the gas chamber,” Peter Samuels predicted after he fired a fatal shot at point-blank range into his estranged wife’s head two years ago.

There is no gas chamber in Florida. But Samuels’ prediction that the slaying would lead to his death could come true after a jury found him guilty on Tuesday of first-degree murder.

Jurors will reconvene on Sept. 18 to make a recommendation on whether Samuels, 32, should die in the electric chair for his crime, or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Despite readily, almost proudly owning up to the murder of Paulet Samuels on April 17, 1993, Samuels hung his head upon hearing the jury’s verdict, his eyes rimmed in red.

The murder of Paulet Samuels, 31, in the parking lot of the Whispering Palms apartment complex in Lauderdale Lakes was “beyond a first-degree murder, it was an execution,” prosecutor Ken Padowitz told jurors on Tuesday.

Thinking his wife, from whom he was separated, had his money and was with another man, Peter Samuels purchased a Tech-9 semiautomatic pistol two days before the murder, Padowitz said. Trouble between the couple had led her to obtain a restraining order to keep him away.

That morning, he took a taxi to the apartment complex where his wife lived and waited for her to return home. She did, with the couple’s two children, ages 6 and 3, in tow.

Samuels, a former Jamaican police officer, shot his wife in the foot, causing her to stumble, then shot her again in the leg. She crawled away from him, trying to hide under a car as the children stood by and screamed.

Raging for his money, he searched her car, then walked back to where she was, grabbed her by the ankles and pulled her out from under the car. He yanked her to her knees by the hair.

According to witnesses, she appeared to be begging or praying, Padowitz said.

“As the children screamed he began to interrogate her for one to two minutes,” Padowitz said. Then he put the gun within three inches of her head and fired once.

Not through yet, he went to his wife’s apartment and peppered the door with bullets, terrorizing the two men inside.

“I killed Paulet and I’m going to kill you,” he told the two men inside the apartment, according to Padowitz. “I’m ready to go to the gas chamber.”

Samuels was also convicted on Tuesday of armed burglary and shooting into an occupied dwelling.

Police arrived at the murder scene and took Samuels into custody. He was unrepentant, Padowitz said.

“I know I’ll be going to heaven because she’s a liar. She’s caused all this. I feel satisfied, justified, very, very, satisfied,” he told police in a taped confession.

Defense attorney George Reres called the shooting a “tragic, irrational act.”Reres said Samuels only wanted to scare his wife to get his money back, and asked the jury to find his client guilty of second-degree murder.

Taking the stand on Monday, Samuels told the jury through tears, “I just wanted my money.”

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