By Dara Sharif, The Root
Seventeen-year-old Dorian Harris shoplifted a $2 beer from a local corner store and it cost him his life. Now, the store clerk responsible for shooting and killing the teen is facing up to 60 years in prison after being found guilty of murder in the second degree.
Lawyers for Anwar Ghazali argued the store clerk only meant for the bullets he fired into the air to serve as a warning after Dorian filched the drink and ran from the convenience store where Ghazali worked, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.
Prosecutors disagreed, saying the shooting was a cold-blooded murder.
“The defendant took it upon himself to be the judge, the jury and the executioner over a $2 [drink]. That’s why we’re here,” state prosecutor Lora Fowler said during closing arguments, the news site reports. “Why are you using deadly force to defend a [drink]?”
In testimony heard from witnesses during the trial, one of them, Beverly Loverson, recalled begging Ghazali not to kill the teen, as the Washington Post reports:
She saw Harris and the beer, and Ghazali and the gun, “and as he passed me,” she remembered while testifying on the stand this week, “I said, ‘Don’t kill him. Don’t kill him. It’s just a beer.’ ”
A Shelby County jury in Memphis, Tenn., agreed, deciding, however, to find the 29-year-old Ghazali guilty of second-degree murder rather than the more serious charge he also faced of first-degree murder.
One of the bullets Ghazali fired entered Dorian’s back right thigh, severing his femoral artery, causing the teen to bleed to death as he fled the store.
Ghazali never reported the shooting or the theft to police, and Dorian’s body wasn’t found until two days later behind an abandoned house not far from the store.
Surveillance footage showed that after firing the shots, Ghazali walked back into his store and continued to ring up customers, with a witness telling police that Ghazali said simply, “I think I shot him.”
Dorian’s death caused outrage, with his family, friends and community members staging protests for two days.
Dorian’s family, which has a civil suit pending against the store’s owner, told the Commercial Appeal it was pleased with the verdict, but wished the verdict had been on the more serious charge of first-degree murder.
“I feel that the charge should have been first degree,” Dorian’s grandmother Effie Fitch said. “He took a life, so it should be for life.”
As it stands, Ghazali faces between 15 and 60 years in prison at his sentencing, which is set for Sept. 23.