Shooter Sentenced 5/3/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 3, 2013

Shooter sentenced: life for taking a life

By Billy Davis

Suzy Adien said she asked the State of Mississippi to seek the death penalty against Derek Dewayne Walton, who stood accused of robbing and shooting to death her nephew, Tareq Abuathieh, at a Sardis convenience store last year.

Walton escaped the death penalty Wednesday in circuit court in Sardis, when he pleaded guilty to capital murder for life in prison.

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“It was good enough,” Adien said of the life sentence, noting Walton, 19, will remain in prison for taking her nephew’s life.

Tareq Abuathieh, known locally as “Eric,” was gunned down when he closed up Sama Quick Stop late at night September 17, 2012. He had $700 in his pocket.

Authorities alleged a video camera at the store showed Walton, hidden beneath a shirt wrapped around his face, shooting Abuathieh with a .380 pistol.

The gunman then turned to shoot a store employee, Roosevelt Coley, who survived the shooting.
Authorities also said the same camera showed co-defendant Marcus Thomas, 20, removing the cash from Abuathieh’s pocket.  A relative of Abuathieh said Thomas had worked at the store in the past.

Both defendants confessed to the crime, Panola Sheriff Dennis Darby said last year.
The District Attorney’s Office pursued its case against Walton first because he is the shooter, said Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale. Court proceedings against Thomas are pending, he said.

A Panola County grand jury indicted Walton and Thomas for conspiracy to commit armed robbery, for Abuathieth’s murder, and for shooting Coley.

As part of his negotiated plea deal, Walton was sentenced to life in prison for murder and the other two counts were remanded. Life in prison was the minimum sentence under Mississippi law.

At the sentencing hearing, Suzy Adien said she was angry when Walton was grinning and laughing when he walked into the courtroom Wednesday.

A court official said he was crying after Circuit Judge Smith Murphey announced the sentence.

Adien thanked the District Attorney’s Office and the Panola County Sheriff’s Department for pursuing the case against Walton and Thomas.

“They brought justice to our family,” she said.

Abuathieh, a father of two girls and a native of Jordan, was 35.