A Johnston County woman previously charged as an accessory in the 2016 murder of a rural convenience store clerk has now been charged with first degree murder.
On October 27, 2016, Esmail Alshami, a 29 year-old clerk at the Shop and Go at 13569 NC Highway 39 North was talking on his cell phone with his wife and in the process of closing the rural store near the Wake County line when two men wearing masks rushed in and during a robbery shot and killed him. A second person in the business, Ricky Lynch, was shot but survived.
Four people were arrested in the weeks that followed. Three were charged with Alshami’s murder: Julien Antonio Allen, Omari Smith and Darius McCalston. A fourth person, Grecia Angelica Montes, 21, of Will Road, Middlesex was arrested in December 2016 and charged as an accessory after the fact.
On Sunday, Montes was rearrested on upgraded charges of first-degree murder. She is being held in jail without bond. Prosecutors would not disclose what prompted the murder charge.
So far, one defendant has gone to trial for the homicide. Julien Allen was convicted in March 2018 of first degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. Allen, 20, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder. He received an additional 83 to 112 months for the assault with a deadly weapon conviction and 29 to 47 months for conspiracy.
During Allen’s two week trial, prosecutors said Ashami was behind the counter when two of the suspects, Omari Smith and Darius McCalston, came into the store and demanded money from Alshami while holding a gun to his face. During the robbery, Darius McCalston shot Alshami in the neck and he died as a result from his injuries. Julien Allen was the getaway driver and acted as the lookout for Smith and McCalston prior to them entering the store.
McCalston’s trial is set for 2019. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against McCalston.
Allen, Smith and McCalston were members of the Crips, a criminal street gang. The convenience store murder was one of several crimes the defendants reportedly committed during a six week period in 2016 in Johnston and Wake counties including other commercial store robberies. 2016 scene photos by John Payne