Man convicted of murder for convenience store shooting over phone bill loan

Man convicted of murder for convenience store shooting over phone bill loan

(As originally published, Wed, October 25th 2023, 4:22 PM EDT)

LANCASTER, Pa. (TND) — A Pennsylvania man has been convicted of murder for a fight in a convenience store that turned deadly.

Carlos Almanzar-Torres, 22, faces a mandatory life sentence without parole for shooting 19-year-old Damian Santiago to death inside a Sunoco/A-Plus store on March 14, 2022.

Surveillance video from inside the store showed the killing.

”He was intending for a fight, instigating a fight,” prosecutor Courtney Restemayer said during her closing argument. “He brought a gun to a fist fight, and he made sure that fight ended in murder.”

According to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, the jury needed less than an hour to decide the defendant intentionally and maliciously killed the victim, which are factors needed for a first-degree murder conviction.

His defense lawyer asked the jury to find him guilty of voluntary manslaughter, but Restemayer diagreed.

”Just because you regret what you did, it doesn’t negate the specific intent of your behavior,” she said.

The video showed the two arguing outside, and that continued into the store. Almanzar-Torres had allegedly loaned the victim money for a phone bill, and the victim hadn’t repaid it.

Inside, the victim was seen punching Almanzar-Torres in the head, causing them both to fall to the floor.

Almanzar-Torres fired a stray shot that went through his sweatshirt and lodged into a freezer in the store.

Then, the victim was seen moving toward the back of the store to get away from Almanzar-Torres, who raised the gun over an aisle and fired a single shot.

Man convicted of murder for convenience store shooting over phone bill loan
Carlos Almanzar-Torres was convicted of first-degree murder and two counts of recklessly endangering another person, Oct. 25, 2023. (Lancaster Co. District Attorney’s Office)

That hit Santiago in the shoulder, went through his lung and stopped in his heart, according to the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy.

Almanzar-Torres then punched the victim multiple times after he collapsed and left the store.

He later turned himself in and gave the gun to police.

Almanzar-Torres was also convicted of two counts of recklessly endangering another person, since there were two store clerks inside the store at the time of the shooting.

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