One of the men charged in a Johnston County store clerk’s 2016 murder will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Raleigh resident Julien Allen, who was 19 when Esmail Al-Shami, 29, was shot to death inside a Zebulon convenience store on Oct. 27, 2016, was found guilty of murder March 29 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Allen was accused of being the lookout and getaway driver for Omari Smith and Darius McCalston, both of Raleigh, who authorities say entered the Shop-N-Go convenience store off N.C. Highway 39 a little after 11 p.m. wearing face masks and armed with guns.
Authorities say Smith and McCalston could be seen on surveillance video robbing the clerk. Al-Shami was shot during the course of that robbery. A second man, employee Ricky Lynch, was also shot during the robbery. Lynch was seriously injured but survived.
Grieving family and friends of the victims gathered outside the store shortly after authorities arrived on scene the night of the shooting.
“It’s very sad. Like I said, very friendly people, welcomed when I buy the gas and everything. I just hate for something like [this], especially a fatality. It’s hard to believe something like this would happen right here,” said longtime customer Tom Price.
Rick Bailey said his brother was shot during an armed robbery at the same convenience store in 2010. Bailey’s brother survived the shooting.
“They took one of my friends, and hurt another one,” Bailey said. “Just a really good guy, he’d do anything for you. Real pleasant young man.”
Allen was the fourth and final person arrested and charged in connection with the robbery and shooting.
Smith, McCalston and Grecia Montes, were all arrested and charged before Allen.
McCalston and Smith were both charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and felony conspiracy. Montes was charged with accessory after the fact.
In addition to the murder charge, Allen was also charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Allen was sentenced to 83 to 112 months for the assault with a deadly weapon charge and 29 to 47 months fo the conspiracy charge. Those are in addition to the life sentence handed down for the murder conviction.
The three other suspects have not yet gone to trial.
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