While traveling to an Alabama state park in search of scenic waterfalls, a Florida couple pulled over to help a woman accused of faking car troubles.
That’s when the encounter turned deadly on Aug. 14, 2022, federal prosecutors in Alabama said.
The Florida college students were on their way to hike in Cheaha State Park when Yasmine Marie Adel Hider waved them down to “jump start” her broken down car in the nearby Talladega National Forest, according to court documents and prosecutors.
After the couple tried using jumper cables and sought advice from YouTube videos to help, Hider’s vehicle still wouldn’t start, according to a trial brief.
Suddenly, Hider pulled out a gun and forced 22-year-old Adam Simjee and his girlfriend, Mikayla Paulus, 20, into the woods, according to authorities, McClatchy News previously reported. They were both from Apopka, Florida.
Hider robbed the couple and fatally “shot (Simjee) as he attempted to defend himself and (Paulus),” prosecutors said.
As the shooting unfolded, another woman accused of planning the robbery, Krystal Diane Pinkins, was “watching in the nearby woods,” according to prosecutors who said she gave Hider the weapon used to kill Simjee.
A federal jury has found Pinkins, 37, of Memphis, Tennessee guilty of “murder, robbery and unlawful use of a firearm during a crime of violence” in connection with Simjee’s death, the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama announced in a Sept. 29 news release.
Hider, who has since testified in Pinkins’ trial, has agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and other charges on Oct. 4, according to court records.
McClatchy News contacted a defense attorney representing Pinkins and federal public defenders representing Hider for comment on Oct. 2 and didn’t receive immediate responses.
After Simjee was shot, he died as Paulus tried giving him chest compressions as directed by a 911 operator on the phone, court documents say.
“My life was changed forever,” Paulus wrote on Aug. 14, one year after Simjee’s death. “I woke up excited to travel and make new memories with the love of my life, but i went to sleep a widow.”
‘I took his whole life away’
Days after Hider killed Simjee, she told investigators “I didn’t want to hurt anybody,” according to a trial brief.
“I took his whole life away, now he can’t tell his story,” Hider said, per court documents.
When Hider shot Simjee, Simjee, who had a pistol, fired back at her in self defense, according to Hider’s plea agreement.
Afterward, Hider spotted Pinkins in the woods and called out to her saying “what do you want me to do?,” the plea agreement says.
Ultimately, Pinkins disappeared into the woods before authorities tracked her down six hours later at a campsite, prosecutors said.
According to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama, Pinkins’ 5-year-old son emerged from the woods with a loaded shotgun as officers apprehended her, McClatchy News previously reported. He ultimately put down the weapon, authorities said.
Pinkins was charged with “endangering the welfare of a child” and the boy was transferred to the custody of the state, according to authorities.
She is facing up to life in federal prison, prosecutors said.
‘We had our entire lives ahead of us’
One day after Simjee’s death, Paulus described him as her “soulmate, my life partner, the future father of my children,” in a Facebook post.
“We had our entire lives ahead of us,” Paulus wrote. “Adam is the best person i’ve ever met on the face of this entire planet. he was the most pure soul and he made sure i knew i would be safe when i was with him. it comforts me to say he passed in one of his favorite places, the forest in the mountains.”
Simjee studied at the University of Central Florida and Paulus studied at the University of Florida, according to their Facebook pages.
On Aug. 14, Paulus wrote “this is just the first year of many without (Simjee), but i see him everywhere as long as i pay close enough attention.
“There is never a moment that goes by where he’s not on my mind. the rest of my life will be a love letter to him. i miss you and love you forever sweet boy.”
Apopka is about 20 miles northwest of Orlando.