A jury on Wednesday watched security camera footage of Balbir Boyal as he was shot by a masked gunman during a robbery at his Modesto convenience store nearly 11 years ago.
Edward Deandre Mitchell is accused of killing Boyal in his store BK Liquors at 150 North Riverside Drive in east Modesto. The deadly shooting came at the end of a series of Modesto convenience store armed robberies that terrorized the community. Some of the store clerks were shot even after complying with thieves and handing over the cash.
Sukhpinder Boyal, the store owner’s wife, testified Wednesday morning that her husband kept a baseball bat behind the counter to use as protection. She was not at the store when the shooting occurred.
She described for the jury the four angles security cameras captured of the store’s front entrance and cash register. The shooting occurred about 11:30 p.m.; Boyal was alone in his business. “One customer came in, he shot my husband,” she told the jury.
David Headley, Micthell’s attorney, has told the jurors that the security camera footage doesn’t reveal much about who shot Boyal. He said police investigators watched the video footage at the time and didn’t know who was responsible for the killing. An initial composite sketch of a suspect didn’t look like Mitchell, Headley said in his opening statement last week.
One customer came in, he shot my husband.
Sukhpinder Boyal, victim’s wife
In a February 2010 preliminary hearing, Laron Tavon Davis said he and Mitchell were using ecstasy and were drunk when they decided to begin their robbery spree in April 2006. Davis testified he was the getaway driver in the robberies. Davis has agreed to a plea deal in exchange for his testimony against Mitchell.
Mitchell is on trial charged with murder in Boyal’s death, along with five counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery.
Also on Wednesday, Ashley Almodovar testified that she was among a group of people who discovered Boyal critically injured behind his store’s front counter that night. She and her boyfriend at the time, Chase Bills, were getting food at a nearby taco truck when they heard shots coming from the area of the store.
Almodovar told the jury that she saw someone running out of the store immediately after hearing the gunfire. She said she was about 100 yards away and couldn’t provide a description of the suspect, who was running west toward Miller Avenue.
“From what I remember, he was wearing dark clothing,” Almodovar testified.
I saw the clerk on the ground, shot, barely breathing with a baseball bat at his side.
The couple had been at the store about four hours earlier. They decided to go back to the store to make sure the store clerk they saw earlier was okay.
They arrived at the store as a few others arrived to check on the store clerk. “I saw the clerk on the ground, shot, barely breathing with a baseball bat at his side,” Almodovar said.
Bills testified Wednesday that he went behind the store counter to use a land line to call 911. He said another person used a cloth to apply pressure on one of Boyal’s bleeding gunshot wounds. His 911 call was played in court for the jury. “Someone got shot at BK Liqours,” Bill told the 911 dispatcher.
Modesto police Sgt. Brent Fainter responded to the reported shooting that night. He testified that he took over first aid and tried talking to Boyal, but the injured victim was unconscious and did not respond.