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Petty Officer Could Face Death For Killing Ship’s Paymaster

July 14, 1988

MAYPORT NAVAL STATION, Fla. (AP) _ A military jury has convicted a Navy petty officer of killing a ship’s paymaster and stealing $94,000.

The five-officer panel was to reconvene today to decide whether Petty Officer 1st Class Ruben Colon should be sentenced to death in the slaying March 15 of Lt. j.g. Ratish Prasad, 24, aboard the destroyer USS John Hancock at dock here.

Colon, 34, an electronic warfare technician, was convicted Wednesday of murder, robbery and kidnapping.

Both the prosecution and defense attorneys declined comment after the verdict.

The death penalty can be considered because Colon was found to have committed a murder during a robbery.

The last Navy execution was in 1849, when two mutineers were hanged in San Francisco.

In closing arguments Tuesday, a prosecutor said Colon choked Prasad until he lost consciousness, shot him in the head, buried him in a ″pile of seabags″ and then emptied the ship’s safe.

Afterward, investigators searched three of Colon’s safe-deposit boxes and found $87,350 in cash and 2,575 blank U.S. Treasury checks bearing the destroyer’s imprint.

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