Pinellas County will host a pair of first-degree murder trials this week, one for a man accused of killing a convenience store clerk and the other for a man who authorities say conspired to kill someone with "Hiccup Girl" Jennifer Mee.
Nearly two years after the Dec. 28, 2011, shooting of clerk Mohammod T. Islam, prosecutors will try to convince jurors that Darius Diquan Bussey, 24, was responsible.
Bussey, visiting from Valdosta, Ga., had come to Florida to see his aunt and uncle. Tired of being broke and unemployed, authorities said, he decided to rob the JFS Food Mart in Seminole.
Islam, 37, was working the counter that day. Investigators say video surveillance showed Bussey shoot the clerk in the chest before pistol whipping him. Bussey fled the store on a BMX bike — with no money.
He returned to Georgia soon after, but Pinellas deputies identified him with the help of a relative here. Bussey, detectives say, acknowledged he was the shooter and told them where to find the gun.
The other trial stems from one of the more high-profile cases in the Tampa Bay area in recent years.
On Oct. 23, 2010, investigators say, Mee lured Shannon Griffin, a man she had met online, to a vacant St. Petersburg house where Lamont Antonio Newton and Laron Cordale Raiford planned to rob him. After a struggle ensued, Griffin, 22, was shot three times in the chest and once in the shoulder with a .38-caliber revolver.
Newton, 25, is the last of the three to face trial.
Raiford and Mee — known internationally for an unrelenting case of the hiccups in 2007 — have already been convicted of the murder.
Attorneys in both the Bussey and Newton cases are expected to present opening statements to jurors today.