Death penalty possible in Sumter store owner's murder case

Two teens charged in killing, kidnapping at Manning Ave. Save-Mart

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The death penalty, a life sentence or a sentence of more than 100 years are three possibilities facing the two teens accused of killing the owner of Save-Mart Grocery on Manning Avenue on Nov. 24.

Larenzo Hagood, 19, and Sincere Dinkins, 17, both of Sumter, are each charged with criminal conspiracy, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, attempted armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping and murder.

A murder conviction could result in a death sentence or mandatory minimum of 30 years to life in prison.

Other possible sentencing includes: five years for criminal conspiracy, five years for possession of a weapon during a violent crime, 10 to 30 years for attempted armed robbery and 30 years for each count of kidnapping.

If convicted of all six charges without receiving a death sentence, Hagood and Dinkins could each be sentenced to a minimum of 110 years in prison.

The two men allegedly entered the store just before 7 p.m. that Friday and ordered two customers to the ground before at least one of the suspects opened fire, reportedly shooting store owner Vijaykumar Patel in the chest multiple times, according to Sumter Police Department. Both men were reportedly wearing masks during the incident.

First appearance hearings for Hagood and Dinkins were held on Friday at Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center, after they were arrested thanks to a tip to Crime Stoppers.

In the small courtroom of the detention center, Hagood sat across from Patel's daughter on the opposite side of the room - his face showing no emotion - while waiting for his hearing to start.

Dinkins made a much shorter appearance in the courtroom, with the same lack of emotion.

Patel's family sat together during both hearings next to the two women who were in the store the night the beloved father and store owner was killed.

Despite the suspects being handcuffed, at least one of the victims was afraid for the men to see her and was comforted by a victim's advocate.

The only words Hagood and Dinkins spoke during their hearings were affirmations to the questions asked by magistrate judge Larry Blanding, who set bond hearings for both suspects at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 12 in general sessions court at Sumter County Judicial Center.

After the hearings, Patel's daughter - surrounded by her fiance, brother and future father-in-law - thanked Sumter Police Department for its "wonder job" during the investigation.

And the community is the only reason both suspects were arrested, she said.

The family thought it would take months or years to catch the suspects, but thanks to the community, the search only lasted five days, she said.

It's unbelievable that the young suspects could carry weapons and do what they did, she said.

"I'm sure they feel guilty," she said," they should."

She said her father - described as the family's No. 1 support system - was important to the community that he served.

"I'm sure my father is at peace," she said.

Patel's son - who traveled to Sumter from India after hearing about his father's death - said the people of the Manning Avenue area accepted his family although they come from a different country and culture.

Everyone came together, she said, as humans.