CROWN POINT | Jurors deliberated 20 minutes Friday before convicting Jeremy Blue on all counts in the murder of a Merrillville store clerk during an armed robbery last year.
Blue faces a possible sentence of 85 years when sentenced Jan. 16.
Blue, 22, of Merrillville, was charged with murder, murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery days after Lucky Mart Foods clerk Judi Simpson-Beaver, 48, was shot to death March 4, 2012, during an armed robbery at the convenience store at 5695 Cleveland St. in Merrillville.
The murder trial took two weeks.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Persin said Edward Lee Perry testified that Perry, Blue and Donvell Edwards were involved in the robbery, but Perry and Edwards "didn't sign up" for a homicide.
"That was the sole decision made by Jeremy Blue," Persin said.
On Wednesday, Edwards told jurors Blue was wearing a hoodie owned by Perry. The hoodie covered the "Jason" mask that disguised Blue's face.
Edwards said Blue was carrying Perry's handgun during the robbery. Edwards testified Blue told him, "I shot her," after the robbery.
Persin said Blue "executes" Simpson-Beaver after the store clerk realized it was Blue handling the robbery.
He said Blue was a frequent customer at Lucky Mart Foods. Persin said Simpson-Beaver worked at the store six days a week. She regularly interacted with her customers and "knew who they were."
Blue has a distinct voice, walk and demeanor Simpson-Beaver would recognize, Persin said.
Defense attorney Marc Laterzo said Perry and Edwards are admitted convicts, and the two had motivation to testify against Blue.
Laterzo said Perry initially told police he didn't know anything about the shooting and armed robbery. He said Perry told investigators "what they want to hear" after he received immunity in the case.
Laterzo said Edwards had been charged with murder, murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery in connection with the crime. Edwards later received a plea deal in which he admitted only to robbery.
Laterzo said facing a much shorter sentence is a "huge incentive" to fabricate what transpired at Lucky Mart Foods.
He also said there is no physical evidence linking Blue to the crime.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Peter Villarreal ended his closing arguments Friday by explaining what a person's last words in life should be.
He said it should be saying "I love you" to family members.
"Jeremy took that away from Judi," Villarreal said.
He said Blue made Simpson-Beaver's last words be, "Jeremy, why are you doing this?"