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Queens District Attorney Richard Brown last Thursday ruled out more serious charges after finding that the March 24 shooting was in self-defense.
Edwin Marte, 35, of Corona was working as a clerk at Ramon's Deli on the Van Wyck Expressway service road in Ozone Park when a man wearing a blue jacket and a black face mask entered the bodega shortly before 8 p.m., brandished a gun and said it was a stick-up, according to the criminal complaint filed by the DA.
Marte told the police he pulled a revolver from under the counter and aimed it at the robber, the complaint said. Marte said he heard a gunshot and then the robber ran from the store, dropping a clip from a 9mm pistol as he left, according to the complaint.
Marte admitted owning the illegal .38-caliber revolver police later recovered from the bodega's basement, the complaint said.
The robbery suspect, 26-year-old Brooklyn native Devon Keitt, was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center with a gunshot to the left side of his head, according to police. A hospital spokeswoman said Keitt was admitted in stable condition and released last Thursday.
Keitt now faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of attempted robbery, menacing in the second degree and administrative firearms charges, a DA spokesman said.
About five minutes after the robbery went sour, police stopped Keitt approximately two blocks away from the bodega after a brief foot chase, the complaint said. Pedestrians had flagged down the officers after Keitt told the passersby he had been stabbed and needed help, the complaint said.
The officers who stopped Keitt said he discarded a blue jacket between the time they spotted him and finally ran him down. According to the complaint, the officers found the blue jacket on the ground near where they first saw him and discovered a black ski mask in a metal trash can close by, the complaint said.
Marte later identified both items as belonging to the man who tried to rob the bodega, the complaint said.
The court papers said police found a handgun magazine with six 9mm bullets inside the deli, but it was unclear what happened to the gun Keitt allegedly used.
Elvis Peralta, who was working at the bodega Monday morning, said this was the third time people had attempted to rob the store: there were incidents twice in one month about two years ago and once last week.
Peralta, 21, said he fears for his safety sometimes while working at the store, which is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., an hour later on weekends. But he described the neighborhood as being a good one.
"The people who come in (to rob) aren't from here," Peralta said, pointing out that the bodega's proximity to the Van Wyck Expressway makes it an easy target for robbers who can easily escape by getting right back on that thoroughfare.
Peralta said he had no idea the gun Marte used was in the store.
"I've worked here for one year," Peralta said, "but I didn't know."
Marte, the bodega clerk, was arraigned last Thursday in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens and was scheduled to appear in court again April 5, a spokeswoman for the DA said.
Keitt, the accused robber, was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grosso on Saturday. Bail was set at $35,000 and he was scheduled to return to court on April 9.
Marte could not be reached for comment.
Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at email@example.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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