Man gets life plus 10 years in killing

Baltimore resident, 31, sentenced for '01 murder of grocery store clerk

`Y'all got the wrong person'

December 31, 2003|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

After apologizing to the victim's family and pleading with the judge for mercy, a Baltimore man was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years yesterday for the 2001 murder of a grocery store clerk.

Jermaine Marshall, 31, of the 1400 block of Ward St. was sentenced after Judge Timothy Doory denied his motion for a new trial. Marshall was convicted of first-degree murder Aug. 25 in the death of Varinder Singh, 39.

Prosecutors say Marshall walked into the Stop & Go Food Mart in the 700 block of Washington Blvd. on Jan. 7, 2001, and robbed Singh and another man at gunpoint. Marshall took money from the cash register, then shot Singh in the neck, killing him, said Assistant State's Attorney Samuel Yee.

During the robbery, Marshall also pistol-whipped store employee Kashmir Singh, Yee said. The two employees and store owner Rajinder Singh were childhood friends.

Before the sentencing, Kashmir Singh told the court how difficult life has been since his friend was killed.

"When he was murdered, I was suffering, and now I'm still suffering," Kashmir Singh said through interpreter Roxanne Maqsood. "From childhood, he was my friend. His family is still crying. I can't face his wife ... because of the memories. When [Varinder Singh] had already given all of the money, why would [Marshall] shoot him when he had already given the money? He was the only son his parents had. His mother and daughter and wife are not in this country, and he had intentions on bringing them here."

After Singh addressed the court, Marshall asked his attorney, Robert Feinberg, whether it would be all right if he spoke directly to Singh's family.

"I feel sympathy for y'all," Marshall said. "I've been a member of that community all my life, and I've been in and out of that store 1,000 times, even after the murder. My heart goes out to you, but y'all got the wrong person."

Then Marshall spoke briefly to his mother, his lone supporter in the courtroom. "I love you. I don't know when this will all be over," he said.

In sentencing Marshall, Doory said the crime allowed no room for leniency.

"It was a felony murder," Doory said. "You are someone who does have a bad, though not horrendous, record. This crime has cultural ramifications that we cannot understand. To suspend any part of this sentence would be unjust ... showing mercy to the extent of foolishness. I firmly believe the fact that you had a handgun in this case is the root of all evil. That is part of what is killing this city."

Before the sentencing, Feinberg spent nearly 45 minutes arguing for a new trial for his client.

He said Marshall wasn't given adequate representation during his trial that began Aug. 20 and lasted four days. Among missteps, Feinberg said, was the fact that his previous attorney visited him only once in prison - eight months before the trial began.

Feinberg also said several witnesses to the shooting told police that a man named "Tony" was the perpetrator, and that Marshall, who is bald, looks nothing like the man witnesses described as having corn rows.

In an unrelated matter, Marshall is scheduled to go to administrative court today on a robbery charge stemming from a hold-up at the Save-A-Lot store in the 700 block of Washington Blvd. on Jan. 1, 2001.

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