Petty officer man convicted of murdering Navy purser

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A jury of five Navy officers Wednesday found Petty Officer Ruben Colon guilty of murder, kidnapping and robbery in the March 15 slaying of a pay clerk aboard the USS John Hancock.

Colon, 34, faces a possible death sentence on the charge of murder while perpetrating a robbery.


At the minimum, Colon faces life in prison.

The panel is expected to hear arguments in the sentencing portion of the case beginning Thursday morning.

The jury found Colon innocent on one count of premediated murder.

Colon showed no emotion when the verdicts were announced.

The jury deliberated for about 11 hours over two days before returning the verdicts shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Colon was arrested in April aboard the Hancock and charged in the robbery and death of Lt. J.G. Ratish Prasad, 24, of Park Forrest, Ill.

Prasad was shot once in the head at close range on pay day aboard the Hancock and his body was dumped inside a walk-in closet. Navy officials said they later discovered more than $94,000 in cash and checks missing from a safe in the ship's disbursing office.

Colon, originally of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, was charged in the case after a local bank clerk alerted military personnel to the petty officer's request for the largest safe deposit box available at the bank.


Navy officers subsequently searched the box and found $89,000 in cash and blank checks.

The last time the Navy executed anybody was in 1849, when two brothers were hanged for mutiny, desertion and assaulting an officer.

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