Harford man indicted in killings of two clerks in Aberdeen Wawa

Death penalty possible for murder conviction

June 02, 1999|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

A Harford County grand jury yesterday handed down the long-expected indictment of a man accused of shooting two Aberdeen convenience store workers to death during a botched robbery in March.

Waylon Tenoco Wesley, of the 800 block of Juniata St. in Havre de Grace, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Melissa Pennington, 18, and Nancy Atkinson, 31, both of Aberdeen.

Officials said Wesley -- who has been in custody since March 21 at the Harford County Detention Center on unrelated charges -- could face the death penalty if convicted in the slayings.

Wesley, 26, also was charged with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault on a customer who was in the Wawa store at the time of the shootings, along with two counts of attempted armed robbery and one count of using a handgun in a violent crime.

Police said a man entered the store, produced a handgun, shot the two employees and fled on foot with another man who remained outside.

In the wake of the incident, friends and co-workers of the two women held a candlelight vigil and built a makeshift memorial in front of the store, which was closed for several days.

A member of Pennington's family who declined to give her name said yesterday that relatives did not wish to discuss the indictment.

Wesley, who is being held on $1.5 million bail, was first named as a suspect in the Wawa shootings in the April 1 indictment of a man charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Laidley Olivere Elphic Jr., 23, of Aberdeen was arrested April 6 and is being held without bail in the Harford County Detention Center on charges that he aided Wesley after the shootings.

According to court records, Wesley has a lengthy criminal record, with convictions for assault, attempted arson, resisting arrest, malicious destruction and battery. He is awaiting trial on charges that he participated in a home invasion in Havre de Grace on March 14 in which four people entered an apartment with a handgun and demanded money from the occupants.

Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly declined to speculate on the motive for the shootings, but noted that the grand jury felt strongly enough about the evidence presented to charge Wesley with attempted armed robbery.

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