Wife's lover arraigned in Fort Stewart Army sergeant's slaying

Jeremy Cuellar, left, and Kemia Hassel.


By KAYLA MILLER | The Kalamazoo Gazette | Published: February 5, 2019

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — A man accused of killing his lover’s husband was arraigned on a murder charge in Berrien County District Court Monday.

Jeremy Cuellar, 24, was extradited to Michigan and arraigned at the court in St. Joseph Monday, Feb. 4, for the alleged premeditated murder of U.S. Army Sgt. Tyrone Hassel III, 23.

The sergeant’s wife, Kemia Hassel, 22, was previously arraigned on similar charges connected to the killing of her husband, according to a press release from Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.

A police investigation revealed the pair was having an affair and plotted to killed Tyrone Hassel III to continue their relationship and reap financial benefits resulting from his death, the release said. Cuellar, who was also in the military, was stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia. Kemia Hassel and her husband were also stationed at Fort Stewart, where they lived with their 1-year-old child.

If convicted of first-degree, premeditated murder, Cuellar and Hassel could face a sentence of life in prison without the chance for parole.

The pair are scheduled to appear for a joint preliminary examination Wednesday, Feb. 20, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli said Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Hassel was scheduled to appear for a preliminary examination Tuesday. The hearing was adjourned so Cuellar and Hassel could appear in court together, at the request of the judge, Pierangeli said.

On the night of his death, the victim and his wife were staying with his father in St. Joseph Township while the two were home on military leave during the holiday season.

Hassell was at a family gathering in Benton Harbor Dec. 31, 2018, when he returned to his father’s home about 11 p.m. to bring his wife some food, police said. He was confronted there by “an assailant who shot and killed him,” the release said.

Cuellar traveled from Fort Stewart to Chicago several days prior to Dec. 31, police said. He waited for directions from Hassel to ambush the victim, and did so on New Year’s Eve, the release said.

Kemia Hassel was arrested and taken to the Berrien County Jail Saturday, Jan. 12, according to jail records. She was arraigned on a charge of first-degree, premeditated murder Jan. 14.

Both Hassel and Cuellar’s bonds were set at $2.5 million each, with a requirement for a GPS tether should either post bond.

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Army Sgt. Tyrone Hassel III

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