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February 7, 2014

Lina’s Food Store murder trial set for early March

MILLEDGEVILLE —

The murder of 51-year-old Dilipbhai “Danny” Patel at Lina’s Food Store July 15, 2009 took two years to solve. 

The case transformed into one of the most notable to ever come through the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office hopper and haunted detectives until a suspect, Jarvis Reeves, was in custody.

The trial proceedings are scheduled begin the first week of March in Baldwin County Superior Court. Prosecutors are expected to seek the maximum lawful punishment — life without the possibility of parole.

“We feel confident that we are going to attempt to prosecute the right individual, and we feel very good about the case,” Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said.

The grand jury indicted Reeves in July 2011 on charges of murder, felony murder and criminal attempt to commit armed robbery relating to Patel’s death at the Irwinton Road store. The Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office made a presentation to the grand jury with 32 individuals prepared to testify as part of the special presentment.

Reeves was already serving time at Hancock State Prison for another convenience store armed robbery when indicted for the Patel murder.

On the night of the murder, a sheriff’s deputy arrived at the store around 9 p.m. after an anonymous tipster called 9-1-1 and advised the store had been robbed and that the tipster heard a gunshot from inside the store, a report from the night of the incident states.

Upon arrival, the witness informed the deputy that the store clerk had been shot by a black male, wearing a gray shirt, black pants, an Atlanta Braves baseball cap and large sunglasses.

The witness said the man left the store in a tan-colored sedan, possibly a Toyota Camry, and headed in the direction of Harrisburg Road.

Reeves was the primary suspect “almost immediately” after the fatal incident. Lt. Bobby Langford collected some of the major evidence the night of the murder by “doing old-fashioned police work,” which eventually helped solve the case according to Massee.

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