A Pitt County judge ruled Wednesday the 14-year-old suspect arrested in the Farmville triple murder will be tried as an adult.
Judge Galen Braddy made the decision during a close-door session, according to Pitt County Sheriff's Captain Paula Dance. The boy, whose name is not yet being revealed, will face three counts of murder for the April 1 Hustle Mart shooting.
Nabil Almoganahi, David Alawi, and Sam Almoganahi were shot and killed at the store, a crime captured entirely on the mini-mart's surveillance cameras.
Captain Dance leads the Sheriff's Office investigation, and said in an interview Wednesday the 14-year-old acted as an adult in a crime that was cruel, contemplated and deliberate.
"We're talking about people with guns, going into stores and just killing innocent people," Dance said. "Just for the self gratification of getting money."
The suspect has 10 days to appeal the decision. If the appeal is denied, his name will be revealed, and he could face the possibility of life in prison.
Prosecutors can not seek the death penalty for the boy. Under North Carolina law, capital punishment can only be administered to offenders 18 or older.
Captain Dance said the case against the defendant is strong.
"The evidence in this case, being the surveillance video tape, clearly shows what transpired in that store," Dance said. "Investigators usually have to piece together what happened during a crime. We can see it all right here."
The three other suspects accused of murder are all adults. Antwan Anthony, 29, Xavier Shamble, 19, and Willie Whitehead, 23, have been indicted on three counts of murder, kidnapping and robbery. They face the death penalty if convicted.
The 14-year-old did not have a gun on the night of the bloodshed, but deputies said he was part of the heist, and can not shed guilt.
"You may not be the one who pulls the trigger. But if you actively participate in a crime of this nature, then you're just as guilty as the rest of the people who participated in the crime," Dance said.
When asked if it was right to charge the boy as an adult, the veteran captain answered with conviction.
"I believe that it is," Dance replied. "I believe that's what the family wants. I stand by it 100 percent. We're not talking about somebody going in and taking a piece of bubble gum, and mom taking you back to give it back and say, "hey, I'm sorry." We can't say I'm sorry in this instance."