After only four hours of deliberation, a St Johns County jury returned a guilty verdict in the first-degree murder trial of Sergio Morgan-Wideman for killing a 29-year-old convenience store clerk. Morgan-Wideman was only 15-years-old at the time of the incident.
The jury listened to three days of testimony about the robbery that occurred on May 19, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. The victim, Malav Desai, moved to St Augustine from North Carolina and was working at Tobacco and Beverage Express located at 70 Masters Drive. He was engaged and looking forward to his upcoming wedding and starting a family.
- One witness was inside the store when Morgan-Wideman came in. She stated that as soon as he came inside, the assailant ordered everyone to the ground. She stated that she noticed that he was wearing something on his face, but that she did not look very close because she was scared.
- Another female witness reported that, as she was entering the store, Morgan-Wideman grabbed her shirt in the back, then placed what she thought was a gun to her head. He pushed her through the front door. She stated that once they got inside the store, Morgan-Wideman ordered her to the ground. At that time, she noticed that the robber had light skin.
- One male witness told police that he arrived in the area a little before 2:00 p.m. and spotted his friend “TJ” sitting on the tree stump on the north side of the store. According to his statement, the two men talked very briefly and the witness went next door to the food bank at 78A Masters Drive. When he came back outside, the witness noticed a black SUV parked close to the tree. He thought it was a customer in the store. He stated that he heard what sounded like a “pop” and then saw a Hispanic, or possibly light-skinned black man, as he exited the store.
- The witness described the man as wearing a red bandanna over his mouth, “like they used to wear in the old Wild West movies”. The man was said to be “tall and skinny” and was wearing a blue shirt. The man traveled around the back of the vehicle and got into the passenger side. The vehicle left the scene, traveling westbound on Josiah Street, according to the witness.
- A city employee who was in the area about the time of the incident told police that he was passed by two vehicles at a high rate of speed, one of which matched the description of the black SUV.
- Patrolman Douglas Tyus interviewed a beer deliveryman who was inside the store during the robbery and murder. His statement says that he heard “a male voice” tell two customers to “get on the floor”. The deliveryman ran into the back room and dialed 9-1-1. He could hear the robber yelling at the clerk to hurry and give him the money. About 15 seconds went by and he heard a bang and the door chime. He described the robber as standing about 6-feet tall, slender build, wearing a red bandanna, blue hoodie and carrying a small pistol with wooden grips.
Morgan-Wideman was also convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and one count of robbery with a firearm.
“This is a tragic event for all families involved and justice for the family has been served,” said Police Chief Barry Fox.