CLEVELAND – Less than two weeks after fatally shooting a teenager helping relatives at an Ohio sandwich shop, a 20-year-old man has agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison to avoid the possibility of being sentenced to death.
Daveion Perry pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and 14 other charges Wednesday in a Cleveland courtroom. A grand jury handed up an indictment in the Oct. 14 slaying late last week. Sentencing is set for Friday.
Defense attorney Charles Swanson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that during their first meeting at a city jail in Cleveland Heights, Perry immediately told him he had killed 15-year-old Sunny Ravi Patel. The plea bargain was reached after hours of negotiation with Cuyahoga County prosecutors, Swanson said. The prosecutor's office said Wednesday that Perry provided a full confession.
"He's accepted that he's never coming home; he's never going to have children; he's never going to have a family," Swanson said.
Swanson said he doesn't believe that Perry meant to scare people but not kill Sunny. Eyewitnesses told police the killer walked into the store and fired a shot as he approached the counter, striking Sunny in the back of the head as the teen tried to escape into the kitchen. Prosecutors said Perry then fled after grabbing money from a cash drawer.
"If you look at the videos, I don't think he was aiming for the kid," Swanson said. No footage from the store's surveillance camera has been released publicly.
Sunny decided at the last minute to work that night at the store for the owners, his aunt and uncle, instead of watching a Cleveland Indians playoff game with friends. He was a sophomore at Mayfield High School.
Perry was arrested two nights later by police staking out stores in Cleveland Heights and in University Heights, the city where Perry was charged with robbing a Subway store at gunpoint Oct. 15. Officers spotted Perry walking into a Dollar General store in Cleveland Heights dressed in the same clothing he'd worn during the Mr. Hero and Subway robberies, police said.
According to a police report, Perry left the Dollar General empty handed when he didn't' see any employees at the checkout counter. Police chased Perry after he exited the store. The report said Perry pointed a .32-caliber revolver at two officers, who each fired two rounds at him. Police found him found hiding in a garage nearby.
Perry was free on a $2,500 bond at the time of his arrest on a burglary charge filed by Cleveland Heights police earlier this year and was supposed be sentenced Thursday.
Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court records show he has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 2007, when he was found delinquent as an 11-year-old on theft charges. Perry was sentenced in October 2012 as a 16-year-old to an Ohio Department of Youth Services prison until his 21st birthday for aggravated robbery and gun charges. He was released in May 2015 when he was 19.
Swanson said a Juvenile Court judge granted Perry an early release after he obtained a high school equivalency diploma and earned college credits during his sentence. After his release, Perry attended classes at a local community college and worked as a contract employee at the Cleveland Clinic before losing his job, Swanson said.
Perry's well-spoken demeanor stands in sharp contrast to the crimes he's committed, Swanson said.
"I can't explain it," he said.