10-year term for Merrillville robbery-murder
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent May 16, 2014 6:42PM
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, Richard Comer, president of the Gary Sanitary District Board of Commissioners, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Lt. Col. Kevin Lovell cut a ceremonial ribbon reopening a 1,500-ft. section of 25th Ave. Friday. The area now has its first storm sewer system. | Michael Gonzalez~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 18, 2014 6:17AM
A Merrillville man was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison followed by two years on probation for his role in the March 2012 shooting death of a Merrillville convenience store clerk.
Donvell Edwards, 23, told the son and daughter-in-law of the victim, Judi Simpson-Beaver, that he was sorry for his role in the robbery at the Lucky Mart in Merrillville.
“I would hope that they find it in their heart to forgive me for the role that I played in this crime,” Edwards said, adding that he still has nightmares from the crime. “I have to live with this for the rest of my life.”
Edwards was a key witness against Jeremy K. Blue, 23, of Merrillville, who’s serving an 80-year sentence for the murder of the 48-year-old grandmother during the robbery.
Lake Superior Court jurors convicted Blue in November after seeing a store security video of Blue, wearing a Jason-style hockey mask, come into the convenience store, 5695 Cleveland St., and take money at gunpoint from both cash registers. The tape shows Blue starting to leave the store, returning and shooting Simpson-Beaver in he chest and then going behind the counter and firing another shot into her head.
Defense attorney Samuel Vazanellis said Edwards had no idea that Blue would kill the clerk and wanted to help prosecutors and the victim’s family in convicting Blue because of his genuine remorse for what happened.
Evidence at Blue’s trial showed that it was Edwards who provided the mask to Blue, and that another man, Edward Lee Perry, supplied the handgun. Perry was serving a prison term for an unrelated conviction and was not charged in the robbery-murder, testifying under a grant of immunity.
Deputy Prosecutor Robert Persin said the trial testimony of Perry and Edwards was essential in convicting Blue.
Persin said Edwards was able to provide Blue’s motive in killing Simpson-Beaver — despite the mask, she recognized him as a regular customer.
Police were led to Blue after a woman called a tip line when she recognized Blue on a TV broadcast that sought information on the killing. The roles of Edwards and Perry came to light when a Lake County Jail inmate provided information on their involvement
Simpson-Beaver’s son, Zachary Beaver, said Friday that Edwards did the right thing by agreeing to testify against Blue. He expressed hope that Edwards, who has two prior felony convictions, can rehabilitate himself.