Local News

Man gets life sentence in fatal Clinton shooting

Posted January 29, 2009 4:21 p.m. EST

— A jury on Thursday sentenced a Sampson County man to life in prison without parole for the 2006 shooting death of a teen following an argument over using a gas station bathroom.

Jurors found Lamar Demond Smith, 33, of Turkey, guilty of first-degree murder in the Sept. 2, 2006, death of 16-year-old Mercedes Lou Wilson, who was shot outside a Sunoco gas station on Sunset Avenue in Clinton.

Investigators said Smith was an acquaintance of a store clerk who got into an argument with a group of teens over using the station's bathroom. During the argument, two men drove up and one started shooting at the group, police said.

A bullet hit Wilson in the neck, and she later died at Sampson Regional Medical Center. Daniel Cordell was wounded during the incident, authorities said.

The clerk, Tijuana Lesesne, and Ben Strayhorn were charged as accessories to the crime.

Smith also was convicted of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, discharging a weapon into occupied property and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to 24 to 36 years in prison on those charges, with the sentences to run consecutively to his life sentence.

"I believe that the verdicts in this case send a clear message that the people of Sampson County will not tolerate thugs with handguns in its community committing crimes of violence," Sampson County District Attorney Dewey Hudson said in a statement.