Grocer's widow tells jurors of shooting


Testifying through a Korean translator, the widow of an East Baltimore grocer gave an emotional account yesterday of the slaying of her husband during a robbery last October.

The grocer, Sung Gu Shin, was shot to death Oct. 14 in the Best Food Mart at the corner of East North Avenue and Washington Street. Yesterday, his wife, Kyung Shin, described the slaying during testimony in Baltimore Circuit Court.

The defendant, Allen Elijah James Jr., 19, of the 3300 block of Oakfield Ave., has been charged with murder, attempted armed robbery and a handgun violation in connection with the grocer's death.

Mrs. Shin cried often while she was on the stand and her testimony brought sobs from family members in the courtroom. She said two robbers entered the store and asked for bologna, then demanded money and shot her husband.

Mrs. Shin said she and her husband were closing their store for the day just after 7 p.m. as her children, ages 7 and 4, played near her. Mr. Shin's mother was in an apartment above the store.

With her eyes closed as if viewing the scene again, Mrs. Shin said through the translator: "Right then, two men were walking in the store, dressed very clean . . . they were not familiar to me [but] our store faces onto a very busy street so a lot of strangers unfamiliar to me. . . .

"So I didn't have any suspicion at all. They asked for lunch meat. I asked what kind . . . they said bologna. . . . Looking back, I didn't see my husband [and] he would have to slice it. . . . I said, 'Come down quick, honey, for an order,' on the intercom."

Instead, she said, one man took out a gun.

"I screamed, 'Aaaaaah, aaaaaah.' I was screaming and I opened the cash drawer. . . . Just then, I heard gunshots in the back."

Mrs. Shin said her husband's mother and both sons saw him lying on the floor -- shot in the forehead.

"My children were hiding somewhere . . . saying, 'Father got killed.' I was opening the [cash] drawer to have them take the money," she said, gesturing as if to hand invisible cash to the translator and the jurors.

But the men fled without taking the money from her, she said.

Mr. Shin died the next day, provoking protests by the Korean Businessman's League of Maryland and others who demonstrated at the small grocery store where his family had worked seven days a week for six years.

Earlier yesterday, Circuit Judge David Ross granted a motion for a separate trial for co-defendant Daryl Keith Martin, 23, of the 3400 block of Garrison Blvd.

Mr. Martin is the alleged trigger man, according to prosecutors.

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