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Family of Malav Desai to get justice, as teen is convicted for murder & robbery

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Sergio Morgan-Wideman
Sergio Morgan-Wideman

Sergio Morgan-Wideman sits in court, he was found guilty of the 2015 slaying of a Florida convenience store employee.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Diya TV) — The family of Malav Desai, the store clerk in Florida who was shot in the head just two months at the job will get justice. After two days of testimony, it took a jury of his peers to find Sergio Morgan-Wideman, just four hours to produce a guilty verdict for the 2015 killing of a Florida convenience store clerk in a robbery gone awry.

The verdict was read in the St. Johns County courtroom of Circuit Court Judge Howard Maltz just after 7 p.m. last Thursday. It brought to a close the three-day trial in which jurors heard testimony from more than 20 witnesses and watched surveillance video of a 15-year-old Morgan-Wideman, his face covered with a camouflage ball cap and red bandana, enter the Tobacco & Beverage Express and shoot 29-year-old Malav Desai in the head just seconds after ordering him to fill a bag with cash from the store’s register.

The all-white jury also found Morgan-Wideman guilty of a single count of robbery with a firearm, as well as two counts of aggravated assault for pointing his gun at, and forcing to the floor, two female patrons who were in the store at the time.

Although they had suggested they might, Morgan-Wideman’s defense team never called any witnesses of their own. Regardless, during her closing argument, lead counsel, Rosemarie Peoples, told jurors that the state hadn’t met its burden of proof for murder.

Peoples suggested jurors have a closer look at certain elements of the state’s case that just didn’t add up, she said. For example, she pointed jurors to what she said should be considered reasonable doubt in the pile of evidence that the state presented, including cargo pockets on pants recovered from her client that appeared to ride higher on the leg than the pants seen in the video.

She also pointed out that no experts or witnesses placed Morgan-Wideman at the store, and crime scene technicians and analysts were never able to find any of his DNA there, either.

“It’s not there because they have the wrong person,” Peoples told the jurors.

It was the common theme of her 45-minute closing argument.

But Assistant state attorney Mark Johnson, leaned heavily on the state’s stack of evidence in the case, including cellphone records and clothing worn by Morgan-Wideman that had gunshot residue. There was also the recorded surveillance of the fatal shooting. Jurors watched that video again while Johnson, standing before the displayed clothing articles in the courtroom, pointed out the red bandana the shooter was wearing, all-black clothing and the camouflage hat emblazoned with the Dallas Cowboys logo.

Johnson called the shooting “senseless” as he told jurors that Morgan-Wideman’s actions were premeditated and met the legal standards of the crimes for which he was accused. Desai had only been working at the store for two months when Morgan-Wideman shot and killed him, Johnson said.

“Malav Desai did not fight him, he did not argue with him, he did not resist in any way,” Johnson said. “Malav Desai did exactly, exactly what this defendant ask of him, he did exactly what this defendant demanded of him. He gave him all the money from the cash register.”

“And what did he get in return?” Johnson asked the jurors. “A bullet to the head.”

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