A man who shot and killed a convenience store clerk that had just handed the gunman all the money from his register and complied with all his demands, was sentenced this week to life without the possibility of parole in federal prison.
Marcus Lamont Crocker, 28, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to robbery and using a firearm in a violent crime.
"Crocker is a lifetime gang member and always will be. When the opportunity came up to put this dangerous man in prison for the rest of his life, we were obviously willing to get involved," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Esqueda. "It was a brutal senseless killing."
As part of the plea deal, Crocker's capital murder case in 3rd District Court, which could have carried a possible death sentence if convicted, was dismissed.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, Crocker is guaranteed to spend the rest of his life incarcerated.
"I think it's a good thing for the community," said Vince Meister with the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office. "He's not going to a halfway house. He's probably going to a maximum-type security federal prison serving the rest of his life. His background warrants it. His attitude warrants it. He's one of the most manipulative, dangerous individuals who was on the streets here for awhile."
On Sept. 6, 2001, Crocker entered the Sunshine Market, 1845 S. 700 East, carrying a .44 caliber handgun. Kang Ho Lee, 24, a University of Utah linguistics student, handed Crocker the money in his register less than $100.
Lee did everything Crocker demanded. But after receiving the money, even though Lee was holding his hands in the air, Crocker shot him in the chest and killed him.
"The young man at the market had complied. He had done everything right," Esqueda said.
After he had already turned to leave, the evidence, which included store surveillance tapes, showed Crocker took a second to think about it, then turned around and shot Lee before leaving, Esqueda said.
"It's just point blank senseless," Meister said. "That's somebody that should be put away fro the rest of their life."
Shortly after the murder, Crocker was convicted and sentenced to federal prison on an unrelated firearms violation. He was sent to a federal prison in Oklahoma and later transferred to a facility in Colorado because of discipline problems.
The Sunshine Market case went cold until it was reopened in 2004. In 2005, Crocker was charged in connection with the murder. He was extradited from Colorado to Utah to stand trial in 2006.
The state's capital murder case was expected to be officially dropped sometime next week.Three others charged as accomplices in the murder were scheduled to return to court in April. Julian Hayden, 27, Melissa Caputo, 30, and Melissa Chacon, 33, are each charged with various felonies.