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A former Missouri gym owner was found guilty of fatally beating a retired 66-year-old janitor with a baseball bat and burning her house down over a property dispute.
Pavel Samsinak, 48, was convicted on all charges on Friday in the brutal murder of his neighbor Alice Hale, who was found dead in her burning home in 2020. The jury deliberated for approximately 45 minutes prior to reaching a verdict, prosecutors said.
Samsinak, who killed Hale over a dispute involving a fence separating their properties, was charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action, arson and tampering with physical evidence, court documents show.
Firefighters found Hale’s Springfield home engulfed in flames on Sept. 21, 2020; they found he Missouri woman’s body was in the back of the home. She’d suffered significant blunt force trauma, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
“Testimony during the trial showed that Samsinak beat Ms. Hale to death with a dangerous instrument, set her house on fire to destroy evidence of the murder and then watched her house burn from the parking lot of a nearby convenience store,” the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said in a press release sent to Oxygen.com.
During trial, prosecutors revealed Samsinak and Hale had fought over a fence separating their properties and the “upkeep of the vacant lot,” court filings show. Police later found Hale’s blood on the driver’s-side seat belt of his Toyota Tundra pick-up truck.
“The evidence presented showed that the defendant murdered Ms. Hale following an argument about a fence the defendant was building between his vacant lot and Ms. Hale’s home on West Lombard Street near Grand Street and Kansas Expressway,” Greene County prosecutors added.
Witnesses and surveillance video obtained by Springfield Police detectives both placed the Missouri gym owner at the scene shortly before Hale’s killing.
Samsinak once owned and operated Czech Us Out Gym in Springfield.
Samsinak had a prior history of violently confronting neighbors and nearby property owners, prosecutors said. In 2013, he allegedly flashed a firearm at a neighbor due to the fact he “did not like the way they walked,” court filings stated.
“When the neighbor went to apologize, the defendant allegedly answered his door with a gun in his hand and used it to gesture and emphasize while he talked,” the case’s charging documents added.
On Thursday, prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson declined to comment further on Samsinak's pending sentencing.
Hale worked as a custodian at Walt Disney Elementary School in Springfield for 17 years and had retired in July 2018.
“SPS honors Ms. Hale’s years of dedicated service to our students, staff and school district,” Stephen Hall, a spokesperson for Springfield Public Schools told Oxygen.com in a statement on Thursday. “Our hearts go out to her family, friends and former SPS colleagues as they continue to grieve her loss. It is our hope that the outcome of the judicial process will help bring comfort in the aftermath of this tragedy.”
Judge Becky Borthwick is scheduled to sentence Samsinak at 2:30 p.m. on May 11, prosecutors said. He’s currently being held without bond at a Greene County detention facility, according to online jail records. He faces life in prison.
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