Warner Robins teen found guilty of killing Mexican food store owner

chwright@macon.comOctober 24, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Tears flowed on both sides of the courtroom Wednesday when Houston County Superior Court Judge George Nunn read guilty verdicts for the teen accused of killing a Mexican food store owner.

“I’m glad it’s all over,” said Fredda Marin Bonds, the widow of business owner Jose Marin. “Now I can get on with my life.”

The two-day trial of Jermontae Moss, 18, came to a close Wednesday with the prosecution presenting its last two witnesses and the defense resting its case without presenting any witnesses. The jury spent two hours deliberating, asking two questions during that time.

Moss, who was found guilty on all 10 counts, will be sentenced Thursday at 10 a.m. He faces up to life in prison without parole plus 15 years for the murder of Marin.

Marin was fatally shot Sept. 22, 2011, while unloading a supply truck at his Bowling Drive business, near the intersection of Carl Vinson Parkway and Watson Boulevard. Employee Javier Moreno, who was helping Marin unload the truck, testified Tuesday.

Another key witness in the state’s case was Neftali Corado, who was shot the night before by the same gun that shot Marin, according to testimony. Corado identified Moss as the shooter, telling the courtroom Moss’s face was burned into his mind.

District Attorney George Hartwig said he hopes the case “reassures business owners in Warner Robins and Houston County that when these types of crimes happen at businesses and lives are lost, we are going to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”

Defense attorney Rodney Davis and Moss’s family declined to comment after the verdict was read.

Davis told jurors during his closing statement that reasonable doubt existed because the state did not prove its case. He said Moss did not fit the original description, and no forensic evidence proved Moss fired the .45 handgun.

“Don’t let the state play this down,” Davis said. “This is important.”

Hartwig insisted he had proven the case and implored the jury to take Moss’s age out of the equation. Moss was 17 years old when the crime occurred.

“Just because someone might be a baby-faced killer -- he is a killer nonetheless,” Hartwig said.

Dan Bibler, assistant district attorney, presented the state’s two witnesses: Houston County Medical Examiner Dr. James Whitaker and detective Mark Wright.

Bibler showed clips of Wright’s interview with Moss, pointing out sections where Moss said he bought the murder weapon and possessed it for two weeks.

Davis, who asked few questions throughout the trial, revved up his approach in an intense cross-examination of Wright.

He asked specifically about another young man fitting the given description who was found near the Bowling Drive crime scene that night.

Davis then closed his case without introducing any evidence and motioned for dismissal of the charges against Moss based on lack of state evidence.

Nunn denied the motions, saying there was enough evidence presented for the jury to weigh.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service