By Melanie Posey
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The man accused of gunning down a gas station clerk in broad daylight was in court today. Willie Deon Brown is charged with capital murder. Authorities with the Jefferson County Sheriff's office say he is responsible for killing 20-year old Samil "Don" Patel on September 12.
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon when the shooting happened. Surveillance video from inside the store shows a man wearing a red baseball cap, a tan shirt and jeans walking into the Jet Pep gas station along Forestdale Boulevard, pulling a gun and demanding money. The video shows the man then chasing Patel into a storeroom where he shoots him, steals the money and runs.
During Thursday's hearing, Sgt. Andrea Knight testified about another piece of surveillance video--this one taken from an apartment building sitting adjacent to the gas station. In that video, a man wearing an outfit similar to the man in the store gets out of a white Chevy Caprice vehicle. A few minutes later, the video shows someone picking up the man as he runs from the gas station.
Knight says there are several reasons investigators have charged Brown with the crime. Shortly after the shooting, the surveillance tape from inside the store was released to the media. Knight testified that from that tape, two people, Brown's aunt and another family friend, identified Brown as the culprit. Knight also said there were personal papers belonging to Brown's mother inside the getaway car, even though it didn't belong to him. The car belonged to Robert Mitchell, Jr., the co-defendant in this case.
When cross-examined, however, Knight admitted that detectives have no DNA, no fingerprints, nor any clothing from the scene.
"Matter of fact, at some point in time, there will be a statement he gave to the police officer saying he did not do it," says Emory Anthony, Brown's attorney. "He wasn't there, he explained where he was and has witnesses to verify where he was."
After the testimony, Jefferson County District Court judge Katrina Ross bound the case over to the grand jury.