CROWN POINT | A Merrillville man credited for helping convict Jeremy Blue in the slaying of a Lucky Mart Foods clerk was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison.
Donvell A. Edwards, 23, pleaded guilty to robbery. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of murder and murder in the perpetration of a felony.
According to court records, Edwards helped plan the March 4, 2012, armed robbery of the Lucky Mart Foods in Merrillville. Police said Blue was walking out of the store with two drawers of cash when he stopped and shot the store's clerk, Judi Simpson-Beaver.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Robert Persin said Edwards' testimony during Blue's trial was instrumental in convicting Blue of murder. Blue, 23, was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
Persin said Edwards also helped answer for the family why Simpson-Beaver, 48, of Merrillville, was killed.
Edwards told officials Simpson-Beaver said, "Jeremy, why are you doing this?" just before she was killed.
During Friday's sentencing hearing, Edwards said the death was "so senseless and could have been avoided." He faced Simpson-Beaver's son and apologized.
"I would hope that they find it in their hearts to forgive me," Edwards said.
Simpson-Beaver was a Texas native and had two children. She worked at the food mart six days a week.
Zachary Beaver, Simpson-Beaver's son, said he watched Edwards' demeanor during Blue's trial and thought Edwards was genuinely remorseful.
Though Edwards was arrested by U.S. Marshals, Beaver said he did the right thing by helping the state build their case against Blue. He said he felt pity for Edwards and thinks he is capable of leading a better life.
"He should not be held accountable for Jeremy Blue," Beaver said. "Mr. Edwards admitted his role."
Lake Criminal Judge Clarence Murray said there was enough grief to go around Friday.
Murray said he believed Edwards was remorseful but also took into account his previous robbery convictions when sentencing him.
He will get credit for the 420 days he has already spent in jail, and will serve two years of his sentence on probation. Murray also noted the defense's request to not house Edwards in the same prison as Blue because of death threats he has received.
Edwards said he will not appeal his sentence.