School principal kills teacher who was pregnant with his child

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 
-A 42-year-old former middle school principal in Missouri will spend the rest of his days in a federal prison for killing a teacher on his staff who was pregnant with his daughter.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie L. White of the Eastern District of Missouri on Tuesday, June 25, ordered Cornelius M. Green to serve two consecutive life sentences for the 2016 murders of 30-year-old Jocelyn Peters and her unborn child, Micah Leigh, authorities announced.

Green, who was married at the time, previously admitted to hiring his friend to kill Peters, who was seven months pregnant at the time, using funds stolen from the school where he and the victim worked.

He pleaded guilty in February to one count each of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire.

The friend who pulled the trigger for $2,500, Phillip J. Cutler, was found guilty of the same charges and similarly sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison by White, who called the crime the "most heinous" he had seen in his career on the bench.

 Prosecutors said that Green had been lying to Peters about his marriage situation and had her convinced that he was in the process of getting a divorce and Peters was the only woman in his life.

But evidence showed that Peters was one of several women Green was seeing, and he turned to murder after failing to slip Peters abortion pills without her knowledge.

"Peters did not know about the multiple other women, including at least one who was also being duped by Green into believing they were building a life together," federal prosecutors wrote in a news release.

"She also did not know that Green was researching ways to secretly poison Micah Lee by crushing pills and hiding them in oatmeal or yogurt. When that plan failed, Green contacted his longtime friend, Cutler, and stole money from the dance team’s fundraiser at the school where he worked."

Several people took the opportunity to address the court during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

Peters’ mother said Green was supposed to be a protector to her daughter, but instead became her executioner.

"All she ever did was love him," she said, adding that Peters "loved that baby so much."

Nicole Conaway, the principal of Mann Elementary when Peters worked there, emphasized how he paid for the hit on his girlfriend by taking money from his own students.

"He literally stole from children to pay for killing his own child," Conaway said.

Conaway also said that she was the one who had to tell Peters’ students about her murder.

"I will never forget the pain in their eyes," she said.

"This trauma will follow them for the rest of their lives."

According to court documents, Green sent Cutler a text message on Feb. 29, 2016, asking him to come from Oklahoma to Missouri at the end of March.

Cutler responded, "Ok, that will work, u gonna b sending the pacge (sic)."

Green on March 7, 2016, sent a UPS package containing $2,500 in cash to Cutler. Records further state that Green used the address of the middle school as the return address for the package containing the cash, which Green had taken from the school.

Cutler came to St. Louis on March 21 and began staying at the residence where Green lived with his sister, authorities said. The following day, Green took an Amtrak to Chicago and left Cutler with his car and the keys to Peters’ apartment. Prosecutors said Green only traveled to Chicago to establish an alibi for the murder of Peters and their unborn child.

Two days later, on March 24, Cutler drove Green’s car to Peters’ apartment in the 4200 block of West Pine Boulevard in St. Louis.

He used the keys provided by Green to unlawfully enter her home, found her in bed, and "shot her with a .38 caliber firearm in the head, using a potato as a silencer to muffle the sound of the shot," prosecutors said.

"Green had Peters buy potatoes days before her own murder."

Green then purchased an Amtrak ticket back to St. Louis "so there would be verification that he was in Chicago at the time of the murder."

When Green got back to St. Louis, he repeatedly asked Peters’ mother to "check on her," knowing what she would find, prosecutors said.

"The depravity of asking a mother to go find Jocelyn’s body, knowing she was dead, can’t be matched," Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Becker said on Tuesday, June 25.


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