Macon man found guilty in 2009 convenience store slaying

A Bibb County jury found a 21-year-old Macon man guilty of murder Thursday in the 2009 slaying of a convenience store manager.

Jurors started deliberating the fate of Maurice Murray Battle on Thursday morning and reached their verdict about 2:30 p.m.

Battle was charged with the shooting death of Dipak “Danny” Patel, 29, manager of the Chevron near Riverside Cemetery, during an Aug. 30, 2009, robbery. Jurors also found Battle guilty of armed robbery and aggravated assault. Sentencing is set for Aug. 16 in Bibb County Superior Court.

Soon after Thursday’s deliberations began, jurors sent out a note asking to view surveillance videos from the robbery again. Prosecutors played the videos in court Tuesday.

Jurors also asked to listen again to recordings of phone calls Battle made to a woman while he was in the Bibb County jail.

In the calls, Battle tried to talk in code and described where the gun and other items used in the robbery were hidden. He also asked the woman to call a family member and tell him to lie about Battle’s whereabouts at the time of the robbery.

At one time, prosecutors were seeking the death penalty against Battle, but they changed their minds after receiving evidence relating to his mental health history.

Battle’s attorneys argued that there was no forensic evidence linking Battle to the killing. They also questioned the credibility of witnesses in the case, including 28-year-old Korey Stephens and 27-year-old Rashard Jeran Harris, who have accepted plea bargains in the case.

Stephens has admitted he drove Battle to the store and picked him up. Harris has said he took money from the store, but he wasn’t the man who shot Patel.

In the weeks following Patel’s death, area business owners formed The Middle Georgia Asian American Business Community Association to bring awareness to the violence that resulted in Patel’s death and the slaying of two other men at area convenience stores during robberies.

More than 600 people marched through downtown Macon on Sept. 10, 2009, calling for peace and safety at area stores.

Stephens, Battle’s half brother, pleaded guilty July 6 to armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by 25 years on probation.

Harris pleaded guilty July 3 to armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by five years on probation.

As part of the plea agreements for Stephens and Harris, the men were required to testify in exchange for the opportunity to ask a judge to reduce their sentences.

Photographer Grant Blankenship contributed to this report.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.