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Published: Friday, 2/20/2009

Trial of man charged in BP clerk's shooting death pushed to Sept. 21

BLADE STAFF

The March trial date set for a man charged in the Aug. 13 shooting death of a BP convenience store clerk was pushed back several months in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday.

Defense attorneys requested more time to prepare for the murder trial for Anthony Belton, who faces the death penalty if convicted. Judge Ruth Ann Franks yesterday set a Sept. 21 trial date.

Mr. Belton, 23, of 934 Cuthbert Rd., is charged with one count of aggravated murder and two counts of aggravated robbery. He is accused of entering the convenience store at 3306 Dorr St. at about 7 a.m. Aug. 13 armed with a gun.

Authorities said the shooter demanded money from Matthew Dugan, who began working at the BP only two months prior. A video surveillance from the store showed that Mr. Dugan handed the gunman an undetermined amount of cash and was turning around to comply with an order to hand over telephone cards when he was shot, authorities said.

Also decided yesterday was the admissibility of statements Mr. Belton made to police about 12 hours after the shooting - including those that eventually led authorities to the suspected murder weapon. Judge Franks denied a defense motion to suppress the statements, saying that police informed Mr. Belton of his rights.

Still to be determined is whether a gesture and comment by Mr. Belton to a police officer who was escorting him to the bathroom could potentially be used at any point during the trial.

In response to a comment by the officer, who asked if he realized that he "threw his life away," Mr. Belton gave a "flippant shrug" and said that it was "no big deal." Judge Franks said she will determine whether the statement and comment will be admissible.

Also charged in the crime were Dymon Bolton and Tony Bivens, Jr.

Bolton, 18, of 623 Ranch Drive, pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to two counts of obstruction of justice for lying to authorities when interviewed about the murder. He was sentenced later that month to four years in prison.

The Bivens youth, 17, of 1024 Ranch Drive, is believed to have been the driver of the vehicle. He is charged with one count of complicity to commit aggravated murder and is set to go to trial March 18. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison.



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