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Teen found guilty in 2015 murder of store clerk

Sergio Morgan-Wideman, 17, to be sentenced in May

Sergio Morgan-Wideman on second day of murder trial.
Sergio Morgan-Wideman on second day of murder trial.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – After nearly four hours of deliberations, a St. Johns County jury on Thursday convicted a 17-year-old of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a St. Augustine store clerk during a 2015 robbery. 

The jury also found Sergio Morgan-Wideman guilty of one count of robbery with a firearm and two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. 

Morgan-Wideman faces life in prison with parole. He could face life in prison when he is sentenced on May 24.

Video of St. Augustine clerk's shooting shown to jury

On the second day of testimony in the three-day trial, prosecutors said Wednesday that Morgan-Wideman was caught on tape shortly after he was arrested, talking to a second suspect in the back of a patrol car about the shooting.

The recording of Sergio Morgan-Wideman and Andre Robinson was played for the jury that is hearing the trial against Morgan-Wideman, who is charged with the murder of 29-year-old Malav Desai. Robinson will be tried separately.

The two led law enforcement on a multi-county high-speed chase after the deadly robbery at the Tobacco and Beverage Express, police said.

Authorities said Robinson, 18, was behind the wheel and Morgan-Wideman was a passenger in the getaway SUV, which was stolen from Daytona Beach a few days earlier.

Deputies put out stop sticks three times during the chase in an effort to flatten the tire of the fleeing vehicle, but the SUV avoided them.

At times, the SUV swerved onto the wrong side of the road. As the pursuit approached a more populated area, a Clay County deputy intentionally struck the fleeing vehicle to disable it.

Deputies quickly took the teenagers into custody. They were not injured in the crash.

The two were put alone into the back of a patrol car and were unknowingly recorded talking about the crime, prosecutors said.

In the recording, Morgan-Wideman can be heard talking about a gun, gunpowder and clothing. The conversation is hard to understand, but the jury members were handed transcripts to help them follow along.

"No witness, but they got a witness. You know what I'm saying. (indiscernible) No gun,” he says. "All they got is gunpowder on my hand. I was (indiscernible). They got the hat and the shirt, but you feel me, that's just a hat and a shirt. The camera wasn't in color."

The camera he's talking about is the store's surveillance camera, which actually is in color and captured the deadly robbery.

That video was shown to the jury Tuesday. In it, the robber can be seen pointing a gun at Desai and saying, “I want it all. Hurry up. I’m not playing.” The clerk complies, but the robber fires one shot at him and runs out of the store.

Desai was shot once in the forehead and died at the scene. Court documents say Morgan-Wideman got away with $600.

The video clearly showed the watch that the robber was wearing and the bag he told the clerk to put the money in.

The jurors were shown clothes Wednesday that police said were confiscated from Morgan-Wideman after the chase.

A forensic scientist testified that gunshot residue was found on the clothes and a handkerchief, which prosecutors said matched what the robber was wearing in the surveillance video.

Records show that eyewitnesses who were in the store that day identified Morgan-Wideman to police as the gunman. In a taped audio interview, an eyewitness told detectives that Morgan-Wideman had the money and then still decided to shoot to kill.

Morgan-Wideman's family was in court Wednesday but declined to comment. Desai's widow, who has moved to India, had hoped to attend the trial but became ill when she returned to the United States.

Robinson's trial date has not been set.


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