A Lee County jury found a Tuskegee man guilty of first-degree robbery and attempted murder Thursday in connection to an Opelika gas station robbery in October 2017.
De’Aundre Neal, 28, was found guilty after he and a co-defendant, Eric Darden, entered the Marathon gas station near U.S. Highway 280 and Columbus Parkway in Opelika armed with handguns on Oct 17, 2017, according to the Lee County District Attorney’s Office.
A store clerk and customer were inside the gas station at the time of the robbery, and Neal and Darden took money from the register and the customer before Neal shot the customer and the store clerk and left, the district attorney’s office said.
The store clerk was lying on his stomach with his hands above his head when Neal shot him multiple times in the back, and the customer, who suffered minor injuries, was able to call 911, according to the district attorney’s office.
First responders provided medical care to the store clerk and life-flighted him to a hospital in Columbus. Neal was arrested Nov. 3, 2017, while Darden was arrested a month later on Dec. 14, 2017, in connection to the incident.
Darden pled guilty to first-degree robbery and attempted murder, and Neal was found guilty of the charges Thursday after less than an hour of jury deliberation, the district attorney’s office said.
“These victims are truly walking miracles,” Lee County District Attorney Pro Tem Jessica Ventiere said. “There is no doubt Neal and his partner never intended to leave any witnesses alive. Neal and Darden are cowards. However, the customer, suffering from his own gunshot wound, showed great bravery and quick thinking. Without question, he saved the clerk’s life that night.”