Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trial Begins in Fatal Shooting Beloved Immigrant Merchant Slain outside 8 till Late Store

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trial Begins in Fatal Shooting Beloved Immigrant Merchant Slain outside 8 till Late Store

Article excerpt

A sign in the 8 Till Late convenience store in Jacksonville's

Miramar neighborhood states: "Trial starts on 28th July Monday

at 1:30 p.m. Courtroom #9."

The sign might seem cryptic to outsiders. But in a store where

customers and workers are on a firstname basis and conversations

often sound like old friends catching up, few have to ask what

it means.

Jury selection starts tomorrow in the trial of Cobra Newton,

19, charged with robbing and fatally shooting Bhavesh Patel, 29,

outside the Hendricks Avenue store a year ago. The trial for the

man charged as Newton's accomplice, James D. Belton, 19, is

scheduled Aug. 25.

"Fantastic," one customer said last week after reading the

sign. "It's about time."

"I hope they get what they deserve. Good luck," a customer told

Bhavesh Patel's brother, Nimesh, a short time later.

"The customers still ask about him [Bhavesh] all the time,"

Nimesh Patel said from behind the counter. "This neighborhood

is the most unique neighborhood. People know each other and know

each other's families. . . . They come in here, they talk to us

and tell us about their family. Everyone's friendly and that's

the way it was with my brother."

As he walked to his minivan after closing the store just after

midnight July 13, 1996, Bhavesh Patel was shot several times and

his vehicle was stolen. But the tragedy in Patel's death isn't

only the dashed dreams of a beloved store clerk and hardworking

immigrant trying to make a place for himself in a new country.

When Bhavesh Patel died, so did plans he had for bringing his

wife, Darshanaben, to America from their native India.

In 1994, Bhavesh Patel followed his brother to California. A

year later, when the opportunity to own the Miramar convenience

store arose, the brothers moved to Jacksonville. Bhavesh Patel,

who had attained U.S. residency status, applied for residency

for his wife, whom he married in April 1995.

"When he was killed, he was only 10 days away from flying back

to India to get his wife and bring her back here," Nimesh Patel

said. …

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