Barbara Labrador embraces her son William as he leaves Her Majesty’s Prison at
Balsam Ghut, Tortola [VITV photo]
WILLIAM LABRADOR WALKS FREE
William Labrador, 39, of Southampton, New York, USA, walked out of Her Majesty’s
Prison at Balsam Ghut, Tortola Monday evening (April 7th, 2003) a free man, after
spending 1179 days in confinement.
Labrador was convicted in May 2001 of the murder of Lois Livingstone McMillen, a
34-year-old artist from Middlebury, Connecticut, USA, whose body washed ashore along
the Drake’s Highway in West End on January 15th, 2000. McMillen, a 34-year old
painter and former model, was vacationing on Tortola, something she and her family
had done for over 20 years. In the days leading up to her death, she spent time with
Labrador and his three friends.
On Monday, a British court overturned his murder conviction and upheld the acquittal
of Alexander Benedetto, a 37-year-old New York publisher. The five British judges
ruled that the evidence of a key prosecution witness, a prison informant, was too
unreliable to have convicted William Labrador and also that Benedetto was properly
That decision also overturned an order by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal to
retry Benedetto. Although the trial judge dismissed a murder charge against him, the
Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeals ruled last year that jurors should have been
allowed to decide his guilt or innocence based on Jeffrey Plante’s testimony.
Labrador was convicted largely on the testimony of Jeffrey Plante, 61,
who said Labrador confessed to the killing while the two men shared a jail
cell on Tortola. Labrador's lawyers argued that Plante, a convicted swindler whose
criminal record stretches back to 1964, was unreliable. Plante, a Rhode Island
native, served 10 years of a 45-year sentence for theft in Texas.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest court for appeals for
British dependent territories in the Caribbean, has the last word of the matter. Its
ruling ends the prosecution of Labrador for McMillen’s murder and those of two
friends charged with attempting to cover up the crime. Benedetto was acquitted along
with Michael Spicer, a 39-year-old law student from Virginia and Evan George, 25, of
Speaking to reporters while she awaited her son’s release, Barbara Labrador
commended the media for its coverage of this story from the beginning, saying this
was instrumental in the appeal. She also thanked the general public and the prison
officers for their support over the years.
Of the ordeal, Mrs. Labrador said: “It has been a nightmare…today is a miracle and I
am still just…it’s a blur…but the most important thing is that an innocent person is
free and he happens to be my son.”
William Labrador exited the gates of Her Majesty’s Prison a few minutes before 6pm
and told reporters he felt “very relieved” to be set free. He said it was “a long
He was expected to return to Balsam Ghut on Tuesday morning to collect his
belongings before going back to the US later this week. He said he would not be back
to the BVI “in the immediate future”, but would spend the next few months catching
up with family and friends.
2003 by SUN ENTERPRISES (B.V.I.) LTD.
PUBLISHERS OF THE
ISLAND SUN Newspaper. All rights reserved.