‘Coward’ killer gets 40 years for murdering father of two

Posted at 1:52 PM, Nov 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-15 19:25:09-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A judge sentenced 19-year-old Trayvon Wilhite to 73 years in prison, with 33 years suspended, for shooting and killing Chesterfield convenience store owner Harshad Patel.

Wilhite had been charged with the first-degree murder of the 55-year-old father of two.

Wilhite entered an Alford plea in August. The plea indicated he did not admit guilt, but acknowledged there was enough evidence from the prosecution to get a conviction.

Trayvon M. Wilhite, 19

Trayvon M. Wilhite, 19

Wilhite is one of three teenagers charged in the January 11, 2016 robbery attempt and murder. Patel was killed at his Marketplace convenience store at 6811 Walmsley Boulevard.

Wilhite admitted to detectives he pulled the trigger, but said he did not intend to kill Patel.

During defense witness testimony, it was revealed Wilhite was prescribed numerous medications for anxiety, mental stability, and sleep aids since being admitted to Riverside Regional Jail.

Carol Keys, Wilhite's grandmother, cried on stand when she asked the judge for leniency saying "maybe he can come back to society to be a productive person."

Patel's wife submitted a victim's statement that wasn't read aloud.

During sentencing, the judge called Wilhite a "coward" and said he committed a "brutal, senseless murder of a beloved father and respected citizen."

The judge cited the defendant's "lack of remorse" for why he gave Wilhite his 40 year prison sentence.

Outside of court, the defendant's attorney told CBS 6 "no comment" while he walked out with Wilhite's family.

Wilhite also pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, using a firearm during commission of a felony and conspiring with another to commit a felony.

WTVR CBS 6 received copies of a transcript of Wilhite's interview with Chesterfield detectives after the incident. In the interview, Wilhite told police he never intended to shoot anyone, and it had been a robbery gone wrong.

He said he was high on acid when it happened, and he did not remember pulling the trigger.

Harshad Patel

Patel leaves behind a wife and young twin daughters.

Trayvon's younger brother Tyqise Wilhite, 14, and Thomas Jennings III, 18, were both charged in connection to the murder.

Police continue to search for a fourth suspect, who has remained unidentified.

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