Devega gets life for 2008 convenience store murder
Posted May 23, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A Wake County man will spend the rest of his life in prison for the shooting death of a convenience store manager during a robbery six years ago, a jury decided Friday morning after two hours of deliberations.
Armond Devega, 32, was found guilty four days ago on numerous charges stemming from a series of crimes, including first-degree murder for the April 10, 2008, shooting death of Stephanie Powell Anderson.
Anderson, 39, was ambushed by Devega as she arrived to work at the Wilco-Hess on Trawick Road and, after begging for her life, was shot when she couldn't open the store's time-locked safe.
In addition to a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Devega received 57 to 72 years – the maximum punishments possible on four other robbery charges and an attempted murder charge stemming from other cases.
"For three months, you've sat here and you've showed no remorse for anything that you've done," Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner sternly told Devega. "You've shed tears one time, and that was when they were talking about you. You told Stephanie Anderson you didn't care. That's the last thing she heard before she died."
Defense attorneys say Devega has a deficit in the frontal lobe of his brain, which affects his ability to make good decisions, maintain self-control and appreciate the consequences of his actions.
He knew what he did was wrong, they have said, but could not control his actions.
During closing arguments of the trial's sentencing phase, however, Assistant District Attorney Matt Lively described Devega as a cold and callous person who had no regard for Anderson's life when he shot the mother of three as she begged and pleaded with him.
As she lay on the floor bleeding to death, Lively said, he grabbed her keys and tried to open the safe. When he couldn't get in, he calmly walked from the store.
Two hours later, Devega went to work.
More than a convenience store manager
Twelve years old when his mother died, Jared Anderson said in a letter read Friday by Lively that he can't stop re-living the moment he learned she was killed.
"Her not being here has left a deep void in my heart," he wrote.
"For most of the world, the community and neighborhood, she was known as a stranger, manager, worker, friend and employee," he continued. "But to us, she was a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and much more."
Anderson was a loving and caring church-going woman who loved her family and loved to sing gospel songs.
"She had a beautiful voice," Jared Anderson said. "That is one of the things I also miss about her."
Lively said Jared Anderson, now 18, was in court the day jurors viewed surveillance video of his mother getting shot and asked Lively afterward if he could see the video.
"That was a difficult thing to do," the prosecutor said, "But he thanked me for showing it to him, and he was mature. He said, 'I just wanted to see if there was anything she could have done to stop this.'"
Chenise Anderson was 15 when her mother was killed. She now lives out of state, where she is in her second year of college.
Her mother was her best friend – she said in a letter read by Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt – and was the type of person who always put others' needs before her own.
"Everything I do now is to make my mom proud. It's all for her," Chenise Anderson said.
"Since she's been gone, it's still hard to accept that I will not see my mom anymore," she continued. "I will not be able to see her smile, hear her laugh, give her a hug or even tell her I love her and hear her say it back. Sometimes, I wish I could just turn back the hands of time, because she didn't deserve this."
Devega sat showing no emotion with his head bowed as prosecutors read the letters. Then, LaShonda Powell tearfully told the court how her sister's murder has changed her life.
"On the day that she got killed, a part of me died too, because she was a second mom to me," she said. "She was the oldest, and I was the baby."
Thirty-two years old at the time, Powell said, she became a mother to her nieces and nephews and worked to help restore normalcy in their lives so they could move forward.
The family is now at peace, she told jurors, some of whom were crying.
"We are at peace with what you all did decide," Powell said. ""He's not getting out and he can't hurt anybody else."
Powell murder was among string of crimes
Raleigh police arrested Devega on Oct. 24, 2008, after a nine-month robbery spree involving seven other convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.
In one case, on Sept. 10, 2008, he shot an employee at the Mexico Lindo check-cashing service on Wake Forest road. The victim in that case, Modesta Fernandez-Lucas, survived, likely because she pretended to be dead, prosecutors said.
Gessner sentenced Devega to 220 to 273 months for the shooting.
Jurors spent 23 hours deliberating the case last week before returning verdicts Monday morning.
In addition to guilty verdicts in Powell's death and the Mexico Lindo shooting, they found Devega guilty on four counts of robbery with a firearm.
They found him not guilty on two robbery charges as well as a first-degree murder charge in the Feb. 13, 2008, shooting death of Anthony Scarborough – a friend whom prosecutors said Devega held a personal grudge against when he allegedly shot him at point-blank range during a home invasion.
Here's a look at Devega's charges, verdicts and sentences:
- Jan. 23, 2008, robbery with a firearm of Subway, 10450 Durant Road – guilty (117 to 150 months)
- Feb. 1, 2008, robbery with a firearm of Wilco-Hess, 7413 Louisburg Road – guilty (117 to 150 months)
- Feb. 13, 2008, robbery with a firearm of Wilco-Hess, 7413 Louisburg Road – guilty (117 to 150 months)
- April 10, 2008, robbery with a firearm of Wilco-Hess, 1741 Trawick Road – guilty (judgment arrested)
- April 10, 2008, first-degree murder of Stephanie Powell Anderson – guilty under felony murder rule (life in prison without the possibility of parole)
- May 7, 2008, robbery with a firearm of Subway, 5410 Six Forks Road – guilty (117 to 150 months)
- Sept. 10, 2008, robbery with a firearm of Mexico Lindo, 4010 Wake Forest Road – guilty (judgment arrested)
- Sept. 10, 2008, attempted first-degree murder of Modesta Fernandez-Lucas – guilty (220 to 273 months)
- Feb. 13, 2008, first-degree murder of Anthony Scarborough – not guilty
- May 24, 2008, robbery with a firearm of Capital Food Mart, 2929 Capital Blvd. – not guilty
- June 5, 2008, robbery with a firearm of Bojangles', 10610 Durant Road – not guilty