Trial begins for store clerk accused of killing suspected thief - - Jackson, MS

Trial begins for store clerk accused of killing suspected thief

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By  Julie Straw - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Sarbrinder Pannu and his attorney kept quiet while leaving the Hinds County Courthouse Monday. 

Pannu was working as a clerk at the J & S Food Mart on Medgar Evers Boulevard and Northside Drive back in August 2008. 

That's when Jackson Police said Pannu fatally shot James Hawthorne, 36, for stealing a case of beer.

Days after the shooting a small group protested Indian owned stores in west Jackson and called the shooting racially motivated.  Others defended Pannu said he had a right to protect himself.

The "Castle Doctrine" allows Mississippians to use deadly force when they are in imminent danger. 

However Police said in this case it does not apply because Hawthorne did not have a weapon and was not committing a felony.

An attorney for Pannu attempted to subpoena Jackson City Councilmen Frank Bluntson, Jeff Weill and Tony Yarber for testimony on violence in the capital city. 

"I was ready for them to do whatever they wanted me to do.  Personally I'm sick and tired of a lot of armed robberies.  I'm tired of a lot of things going on in the city because the people are really upset," said Council President Bluntson.

A city attorney argued it would interfere with city business and testimony from city leaders would not be relevant. 

Hinds Circuit Judge Winston Kidd agreed and ruled the city leaders would not be needed at the trial.

Hawthorne's father, James Hawthorne, Sr., declined an on camera interview saying this time during the trial is just too painful.

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