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Former US marine DaShawn Longfellow, knifed to death on Phuket

Phuket Builds the Case Against 'Kickbox Killer'

Sunday, September 5, 2010
News Analysis

GETTING Lee Aldhouse back to Thailand to face a charge that he murdered former US marine DaShawn Longfellow won't be accomplished easily. People on Phuket may think Aldhouse is the killer - proving it is another matter.

Once the 27-year-old kickboxer escaped from Thailand, having him returned to Phuket became a lot harder. Yet being in Britain does not mean he is, as it were, ''home free.''

He is, according to every account we've heard or read so far, an all-round thug, a man who bites the ears of other kickboxers, makes threats to strangers, and beats up women. However, not being a particularly nice man doesn't make him guilty of murder.

Phuket police and officials within the Thai justice system will be working hard to get him back - even though, as one senior Phuket policeman has highlighted, Thailand's part in this crime is, to a certain extent, almost incidental.

A holidaying Briton appears to have killed a holidaying American. The slaying may have taken place on Phuket, but the nationalities of the alleged murderer and his victim now count, in some people's eyes, for a whole lot more.

The extradition process for Aldhouse's retrieval is yet to begin, and it cannot be rushed.

Phuket Provincial Prosecutor Tawan Sukyiran says that reports that the case file has been sent back to local police in the Chalong district of southern Phuket are simply not true.

The prosecutor is waiting, he told us, for the results of forensic tests now being carried out at Police Region 8 Headquarters in Surat Thani. He added that the investigation into the crime is continuing on Phuket.

Police forensic science these days often focuses on DNA, especially in cases of homicide. If Aldhouse's DNA can be found in or near where the killing took place, Longfellow's apartment at Ya Nui Resort 2, it would be an important piece of evidence in pursuing a charge of murder.

Longfellow's Thai girlfriend was in a bedroom at the apartment and emerged when she heard the noise as the men fought. But did she see enough to identify the man who stabbed her friend to death?

Odd as it may seem to onlookers on Phuket, the trail of evidence so far may not be sufficient at this stage to convict Aldhouse, or even to persuade British authorities that he should be extradited. Circumstances surrounding the predawn stabbing on August 14 could even be twisted to his advantage.

Judging from the security camera footage posted on Youtube by Phuketwan and subsequently screened on CNN, Fox News and Sky, two knives were picked up off the floor of the local 7-Eleven store by a man who looks a lot like Aldhouse. But this is not damning evidence.

Perhaps most significantly, the fact that Aldhouse and Longfellow had already fought earlier in the morning, at the Freedom Bar in Rawai, not far from Chalong, could account for Aldhouse's DNA being found on Longfellow's skin or clothing. Even a palm print on the handle of a knife may not be enough to convict Aldhouse, especially if he chooses to plead innocence.

Is there a knife that holds traces of the DNA of both men? That may be what the forensic team in Surat Thani is trying to establish.

Connecting one or both the 7-Eleven knives to the death scene, though, combined with identifying Aldhouse as the person in the security camera footage, may be evidence enough for an extradition, if not for a conviction.

Add evidence from witnesses at the Freedom Bar that Aldhouse said, after losing the fight, that he planned to kill Longfellow, and the case against Aldhouse almost has sufficient momentum for a successful extradition.

Khun Tawan and his prosecuting team know that they will need to have a strong prima facie submission before British authorities allow Aldhouse to be returned to Thailand. If the evidence remains circumstantial, it will need to be very strong.

This is why rigor is being applied to the compilation of the case document - Thailand is likely to have just one chance at pleading for Aldhouse to be returned. And a prosecutor's task is to achieve justice, not settle scores.

If Aldhouse confesses to the crime, he could be back in Thailand swiftly. But as the prime suspect in the murder, his attempt to flee the country and the region seems to make a sudden confession most unlikely.

When the application for extradition reaches a British court, as it undoubtedly will, Aldhouse or his lawyer will almost certainly raise the issue of whether a British citizen should be sent to face trial in a country that still upholds capital punishment.

At that point, counsel representing Thailand's Attorney General is bound to say that the death penalty in this type of murder in Thailand is an improbable outcome. Executions in Thailand are rare. Crimes of passion usually do not bring the maximum penalty.

What could yet make this case exceptional is the potential for US authorities to support an extradition plea by Thailand. Longfellow is, after all, an American war veteran, a man wounded in battle while serving his country. His mother, his fellow Marines, his friends, all want justice.

The US Embassy has yet to respond to a request from Phuketwan for an outline as to what could happen, in theory, in a case where an American became a murder victim and the extradition of the prime suspect to a third country was required.

We think we know the answer, and we think that, although no official response has been forthcoming, the answer is that US authorities would feel compelled to seek justice.

For the US Attorney General to support to an application for an extradition to Thailand would make for a powerful message to a British court. The weight of evidence, though, is what would ultimately guide any fair decision.

Thailand's and Phuket's part in this case is, as the island police colonel has noted, much about providing the background topography. Yet Thailand is also now obliged to play the lead role in seeking justice.

Standing as we did just days ago at a morgue on Phuket, watching DaShawn Longfellow's body being lifted gently by Thais and placed in a coffin to be sent home from his holiday, it was impossible not to dream that somehow, sometime, justice will be done.
Related News From Phuketwan


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Phuket Farewells Longfellow on Final Journey
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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and where is Lee's girlfriend?

Posted by Vfaye on September 5, 2010 10:03

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The Brits will charge their citizens if they perform acts of pedophilia in a foreign country, but they won't charge them with committing murder in a foreign country??

Posted by Antz Pantz on September 5, 2010 10:09

Editor Comment:

As the article says, the evidence is still being assembled. It's far too early to make that kind of speculative assertion.

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I am sure the Americans will not let Aldhouse go, I would wonder if no FBI case liaison officer is already doing his job. Unlucky him, his victim was not European or an Aussie. Good.

Posted by Lena on September 5, 2010 12:58

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To even think the UK would not extradite this man is obscene. I am American, and will urge whatever US official I must to demand it. Fights happen with drunken people, but the writing is on the wall; this man is the sort that will continue to do bad, wherever he is. The UK and the US can not let this man go unjudged, cannot let him continue to cause damage to the people and places he comes in contact with.

Posted by Doretta on September 5, 2010 13:22

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innocent until proven guilty.
I hope they get the killer !

Posted by Lord Jim on September 5, 2010 14:56

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The US Embassy and State Dept. really need to get involved here and put on maximum pressure.

Posted by Scott, USA on September 5, 2010 21:09

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No updates about this story, hm. So, has Aldhouse simply vanished into the UK prison system?

Posted by JingJing on September 14, 2010 02:14

Editor Comment:

Justice won't be rushed.

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The Brits will charge their citizens if they perform acts of pedophilia in a foreign country, but they won't charge them with committing murder in a foreign country??

I think millions of people agree with you on this point. The UK supports thugism by allowing it to continue with their pathetic weak attitude to thugism. The whole world is sick of English thugs abroad. I am from the UK and sick to death of seeing how pig ignorant and arrogant UK thugs are.

They are cowards and wet pathetic idiots. All other nationalities get on and enjoy themselves together but the Brits ruin it.....grow up and start to act like human beings ! I hope justice prevails !

Posted by David on November 30, 2010 18:30

Editor Comment:

We haven't made any case for Britain supporting ''thugism'' abroad - you have. In fact, the British embassies abroad would be the first people to condemn any Briton caught behaving inappropriately abroad, so there goes your argument. There is no case for your allegations against British visitors to Phuket, and the only reason we have carried your comment is because you say you are British. If Lee Aldhouse is eventually found guilty of killing DaShawn Longfellow, that would simply prove that Mr Aldhouse is a less than desirable British citizen abroad. To extend his actions, which have yet to be proven in a court, to somehow imply the behavior of others is criminal or suspect is ridiculous.


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