It took a Clayton County jury about two hours, Wednesday morning, to convict three local men in the shooting, stabbing, and beating deaths of two apparent drug dealers.
Superiore Emonte Allen, 24, and Brandon Joran Norwood, 25, were convicted of murder in the Jan. 18, 2009 deaths. Co-defendant Santonio Demonta Lucas, 24, was convicted of criminal attempt to commit armed robbery and Violation of Georgia's Controlled Substances Act.
Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers said evidence showed that Allen shot victims, Vandit Patel, 22, and Jimmy Prak, 23. Norwood stabbed the men with a paring knife. Both men kicked and beat the victims.
"They were essentially executed in the parking lot," said Powers. "It was a bold, bold crime. It was one of the more heinous crimes, because it happened right in broad daylight. They had no regard for human life. The jury did the right thing."
Lucas acted as a lookout. "He had no weapon, and there was no evidence he participated in the assault on the two victims," said Powers.
All five men met in middle school, and knew each other through high school.
"Patel begged for his life while Norwood stabbed him," she said. "They all went to Mount Zion High School together and he knew Norwood. Patel was then shot several times, including a final shot to the head."
The incident started at about 10:30 a.m., on a Sunday at Tara Court Apartments on Tara Boulevard. Allen set up a deal to buy 8 pounds of marijuana from Patel and Prak.
"Superiore Allen was broke, he was behind on his bills," said Powers. "He had no intention of buying the drugs, he was there to rip them off."
But the drugs were locked inside the trunk of the victims’ car and the victims would not give up the key. Allen chased Prak into nearby woods and shot him in the head. Allen and Norwood beat and shot the men trying to get the key, she said. After killing the two men, the trio fled the area. The drugs remained in the locked trunk. Police found the key underneath Prak's body.
Although the murders happened in broad daylight in front of witnesses, Powers said, the suspects wore hoods, making identification difficult. But what brought the case together was an examination of cell phone records.
"There were a series of text messages among the three, telling each other to not speak to the police or tell anyone what happened," she said. "There was also evidence Allen attempted to point to others as the shooter."
The three men have been held in the Clayton County Jail since their arrests the month after the shooting. A sentencing date in the case has not been set.