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Man charged in killing store clerk testifies of homelessness, mental illness and drugs

Man charged in killing store clerk testifies of homelessness, mental illness and drugs

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jamerius crennell mug

Crennell

A man accused of killing a convenience store clerk in a September robbery said during a court appearance that he was homeless and facing mental health issues.

Wearing what appeared to be a rosary over his striped jailhouse shirt, 20-year-old Jamerius Al-Karim Crennell also signaled that drug use might become a factor in the case.

“Drugs are the reason I’m here,” he said.

Crennell, of Roanoke, had also mentioned drug use to police after initially denying knowing what happened at the A&A Cash Market on the night of Sept. 29 and suggesting he might have blacked out, according to details shared by authorities in court.

He later admitted to the robbery and said another person put him up to it, said assistant prosecutor John McNeil.

A second person might have played a part in the holdup but hasn’t been caught yet. Efforts to find them have been unsuccessful so far, officials said.

Crennell was stopped by a patrol officer immediately after the shooting as he was running out of the store. He had a gun in one hand and a clutch of cash in the other, McNeil said.

The police officer had been out checking on stores in the neighborhood after a recent rise in crime in the area. As he drove by the corner shop, he noticed someone, later identified as Crennell, walking in while wearing a hoodie that was pulled up and cinched tightly, which struck the officer as odd given the weather, McNeil said. It was 73 degrees that night in Roanoke, according to National Weather Service data.

The officer then noticed a second person, hoodie also cinched, hovering outside around the corner of the building, McNeil said. The person seemed shaken up by the sight of the police car.

The officer pulled over but, before he got out of his car, gunshots erupted from inside the store. One of the bullets burst through an exterior wall of the building, according to security video played in court. A customer who had been inside came sprinting out.

Crennell followed shortly after but was stopped by the officer. He’s been held in jail since while awaiting trial on charges of aggravated murder, robbery resulting in a death and two counts of use of a firearm in a felony.

On Friday morning, Crennell appeared in court to request bond. He said he could stay with relatives in the area and would submit to house arrest, electronic monitoring, drug screening or any other requirements.

“I’m willing to do anything it takes, sir,” he said.

McNeil, arguing against the request, outlined an account of what happened that night and showed video from both outside and inside the store.

Crennell pressed his hands to his eyes as the monitor played a recording that appeared to show him grabbing money out of the store’s register as the clerk, Basil Glenn Hubble, who’d been shot multiple times, was slumped on the floor. Hubble, 31, of Roanoke, died at the scene.

“Frankly, this is just about as brutal and uncalled for a homicide of an innocent individual that the court will ever see,” McNeil said.

He also said Crennell had pending charges in Botetourt County after being accused of failing to appear in court for an unrelated case there.

Neither Crennell nor his attorney spoke about the accusations he’s facing or responded to the details presented by the prosecution.

Roanoke Circuit Judge David Carson deemed Crennell both a potential flight risk and a potential public danger if released. “Mr. Crennell, you have zero chance of getting bond,” he said.

Crennell’s case is currently set for trial in May.

The second person who had been seen by the officer that night fled and couldn’t be found afterward, McNeil said. The person was recorded by security cameras walking alongside Crennell and seeming to talk with him in the moments before Crennell entered the store.

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