DA won't pursue death penalty in Durham store clerk's shooting
Posted July 30, 2015
Durham, N.C. — Durham County prosecutors say they don't plan to try the July 4 robbery and slaying of a convenience store clerk as a capital case.
Amer Mahmood, 48, was gunned down as he worked at Joy Food Mart, at 2109 N. Roxboro St. Dmarlo Johnson, 26, of Durham, is charged with murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault on a government official in the case.
Based on witness statements and store security camera footage, police said a man with a shirt pulled up over his face brandished a handgun and demanded money from Mahmood. Mahmood placed the cash drawer from the register on the counter and put his hands up, and the robber went behind the counter and shot Mahmood three times, including once after he had collapsed on the floor, before grabbing the money and some cigarettes and leaving.
After dropping the money and cigarettes in his car, the robber is seen on security video returning to grab more cigarettes, shoot Mahmood a fourth time, fire shots at the security cameras and threaten customers.
Police officers responding to 911 calls from customers in the store confronted the robber as he left the second time. Officers exchanged gunfire with the man, who was wounded and taken into custody.
Carolyn Mahmood called the decision not to seek the death penalty in her husband's death "unacceptable."
"Amer and us, his family, got the death penalty the second that trigger was pulled," Carolyn Mahmood wrote in an email to WRAL News. "Amer was only working, and Amer paid with his life. Amer got the death penalty, and so did we. Now, it's Dmarlo Johnson's turn."
"Where is the justice for Amer? Where is the justice for his two now fatherless children?" Barbra White, Carolyn Mahmood's aunt, wrote in an email to WRAL News. "This is a second death sentence for this family. Amer died, and now his family has to endure a trial that we already know will not produce the outcome that is deserved. Clearly, the justice system is lacking."
Prosecutors declined to comment on their decision, saying legal ethics prevent them from discussing the facts of the case or their opinion of the facts.
Community members gathered outside Joy Food Mart on Thursday evening to remember Amer Mahmood and support his family.
The vigil was organized by Nonviolent Durham and will be hosted by leaders of three different religions. Rev. Bruce Puckett, director of community ministry for Duke University Chapel, said the gathering will help the community heal.
"It's an opportunity to pray, an opportunity to lament, an opportunity to listen to people who knew Amer and an opportunity to say our community has lost because we lost him," Puckett said.
Carolyn Mahmood and her children are in New York and can't attend the vigil, but she sent remarks that were read at the gathering.