A Queens man who pleaded guilty last year in the killing of a Valley Stream convenience store clerk was sentenced Monday to more than 30 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein said she gave Jermaine Jackson, 25, of Queens Village the 365-month sentence because there was no reason for Jackson to fatally shoot Edwin Lopez during a December 2016 robbery attempt.
“He did not have to kill Mr. Lopez,” Feuerstein said after imposing the sentence in federal court in Central Islip. “There was no reason.”
Prosecutors said Jackson was wearing a mask over the lower portion of his face and brandishing a semiautomatic handgun when he and a co-conspirator entered the Al Mini Mart in Valley Stream. Jackson held the store’s employees at gunpoint while his partner attempted to remove money from the cash register.
Jackson shot Lopez after the clerk grabbed a bottle and attempted to resist the robbery. Jackson shot Lopez several more times after he followed him out of the store, prosecutors said.
Jackson apologized to the two dozen Lopez relatives who attended Monday’s hearing for the pain he caused them. Some of the family members wore T-shirts and sweatshirts with a picture of Lopez. Many sobbed and cried throughout the hearing.
“There are no words to describe the anger and the pain I have felt since my father’s death,” said Lopez's daughter, Yisel, 18, of Oceanside. She described her father as a compassionate and kind man who worked hard to provide for his family.
Jackson’s parents and siblings also attended the hearing and declined to comment after the sentencing but they were visibly angered. “That sentence is ridiculous!” one woman shouted after she left the courtroom.
“The sentence is extremely harsh,” said Jackson’s attorney, Garnett Sullivan of South Hempstead, who had asked Feuerstein to sentence Jackson to 17 years in prison.
Yisel Lopez said the sentence has not eased the pain of losing her father.
“They say time heals everything, but it doesn’t,” she said. “It just gets harder and harder.”
Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, said he hopes Jackson's sentence serves as an example.
“Jackson senselessly murdered a hardworking man who was just trying to support his wife and teenage daughter," Donoghue said. "While this sentence cannot return Mr. Lopez to his family and community, it will ensure that others will be protected from Jackson for decades to come and it will make other criminals think twice before taking a life,” Donoghue said.