He killed a Durham convenience-store clerk, then shot his accomplice. Next stop, prison.

Robert Jackson
Robert Jackson

A Durham man pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing a convenience store clerk and, two weeks later, one of the men who helped him rob the store.

Robert Bernard Jackson pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced to between 23 years and 29 years in prison. He’ll likely spend about 19 years in prison, after credit for time spent in jail since the killings, said Woody Vann, his attorney.

The murders, within two weeks of each other, “spun out of control,” said Durham County Assistant District Attorney Michael Wallace.

Jackson, 37, was charged with robbing and killing Mohamed Thabet Shoufar, 58, an employee at the Buy Quick convenience store at 419 S. Briggs Ave.

On Dec. 19, 2015, Shoufar was shot inside the business and died after he was taken to the hospital, The News & Observer reported.

Charles William Willis is also charged with murder and robbery in the killing. Wallace said he expects Willis’ charges to be addressed in the next couple of weeks.

Shoufar was a father of three sons and one daughter who lived in Yemen, a relative said.

Jackson, Willis and Nicholas Bell were seen on the store’s surveillance footage taking beer and $1,500 cash, Wallace said. Jackson shot Shoufar twice, Wallace said.

Bell was found Jan. 3, 2016, shot and dead in woods behind an Ashe Street home, just around the corner from the Buy Quick store.

When officers found Bell’s body, they recognized him as one of the Buy Quick robbers, and the continued investigation led to murder and robbery charges against Jackson and Willis.

Police received information that indicated Bell had been talking about the fatal robbery and was concerned, Wallace said.

Jackson shot and killed Bell at a house and ordered Willis and another to dispose the body and clean up after the killing, Wallace said. The body was left in the woods behind a nearby house.

Willis and Jackson were arrested in January 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland, by federal marshals.

Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson walks though the legal process from the time someone is arrested until the time they are sentenced.

Staff writer Jacquelyn Melinek contributed to this report.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Jacquelyn Melinek covers metro news for the News & Observer, where she works to update readers about the latest in government, crime, schools and other local news stories. She is a Stembler Scholar, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the School of Media and Journalism and grew up in Westchester, New York.
Virginia Bridges covers criminal justice in Orange and Durham counties for The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer. She has worked for newspapers for more than 15 years. In 2017, the N.C. Press Association awarded her first place for beat feature reporting. The N.C. State Bar Association awarded her the 2018 Media & Law Award for Best Series.