Jamaica man sentenced in fatal shooting of grocery store worker in 2011: DA

A Jamaica man was sentenced in Queens Criminal Court Thursday for the fatal shooting of a grocery store worker in 2011. (File/Lloyd Mitchell)

It took nearly a dozen years, but justice has finally been meted out in Queens Criminal Court for the fatal shooting of a Jamaica grocery store worker in 2011.

Dewayne Henry, 45, of Long Street, on March 30 received an indeterminate sentence of 25 years to life in prison for gunning down 65-year-old Jorge Marte during a botched robbery at the Melani Grocery. Henry has been incarcerated on unrelated charges for much of the time since the murder, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Henry was convicted in February of murder in the second degree, attempted robbery in the first degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

According to the charges, on the night of July 8, 2011, at approximately 10 p.m., Henry was wearing a white cloth mask when he entered the Melani Grocery on Guy Brewer Boulevard near 112th Street, where Marte was working behind the counter. A friend of Marte’s was also in the store as Henry approached the counter carrying a semiautomatic pistol. He took a brown pillowcase from his pocket, tossed it on the counter and demanded that Marte put cash from the register in it.

Henry then approached Marte’s friend and forced him to the front of the store. Marte picked up a kitchen knife and ran to the door of the store. Henry followed Marte and shot him once in the chest. He fled down 112th Road toward Dillon Street,a ccording to the charges. A passerby, who arrived at the store after Henry fled, called 911. Police from the 113th Precinct in Jamaica responded to the crime scene and EMS rushed Marte to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

A search for evidence at the Melani Grocery turned up a spent 9mm cartridge casing. Additionally, security camera video footage captured Henry approaching and later fleeing the location on foot. The footage also showed a Mitsubishi Eclipse making multiple passes near the store in the minutes leading up to the crime.

Henry was arrested weeks later in connection with another grocery store robbery, for which he was convicted and sentenced to prison. It was subsequently determined that the firearm used in the second robbery was the same one used in the attempted robbery and slaying at the Melani Grocery, according to the DA’s office. Additionally, a Mitsubishi Eclipse was spotted near the scene of the second robbery and found to belong to Henry. A mixture of DNA found on the pillowcase left at the Melani Grocery also implicated Henry.

Although convicted and sentenced to 18 years for the second robbery in June 2012, Henry was released in May 2017 due to potential juror misconduct. The second robbery case was later dismissed when the civilian witnesses to the crime moved out of the country. After being re-arrested on a weapons charge in 2018, Henry was charged while in custody with the murder of Marte.

“Today’s sentencing provides long-overdue closure for the family of Jorge Marte,” Katz said. “I trust they took comfort in describing to the defendant the anguish and pain he violently forced upon them. I hope they find solace in knowing that the man who killed their loved one is going to prison for a very long time.”

Queens Criminal Court Judge Michael Aloise sentenced Henry to 25 years to life in prison, to be followed by five years of post-release supervision.