Queens Bodega Incident
March 31, 2004
By: Herbert Lowe - Staff Writer
The Brooklyn man police say was robbing a Queens bodega when a clerk shot him was just a customer and doing nothing wrong at the time, his attorneys said yesterday.
"As far as I know, the reason why he was in the store is he was shopping," said John Scarpa, one of Devon Keitt's attorneys.
Authorities say the clerk, Edwin Marte, 35, was defending himself when he shot Keitt, 23, of Crown Heights, in the head after Keitt first showed a gun and tried to rob the Ramon Food Market, off the Van Wyck Expressway in Ozone Park, on March 24.
But Scarpa and his co-counsel, Scott Brettschneider, said that there were scenarios the Queens district attorney's office wasn't pursuing, including the possibility of other shooters.
A grand jury indicted Keitt yesterday but the charges were unclear. After being released from a hospital, he was being held on $35,000 bail on attempted robbery, menacing and weapon charges.
At the time of the shooting, he was on parole after serving more than three years for possession of stolen property.
A spokesman for the Queens district attorney said "there was probable cause for the arrest and there's legally sufficient evidence to sustain the charges. The prosecution will go forward."
Though his family and supporters consider him a hero, Marte, if convicted, still faces up to a year in jail because he was not licensed to use the .38-caliber revolver. He was charged with misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapon and released without bail.
Marte's attorney, Todd Greenberg, insisted that he is a hard-working employee who told the truth about what happened.
"Clearly he acted in self defense," Greenberg said.
Keitt's father, O'Neal Keitt, said he owns an exterminating company, Carone Exterminating, and that his son works for him.
"I think someone jumped to a conclusion that wasn't necessarily the facts," O'Neal Keitt said. "My son is not a robber."