Macon man pleads guilty to armed robbery and assault in convenience store killings

Joe Kovac Jr./

Jeremy Jerome Kendrick pleaded guilty to robbing a convenience store and assaulting the clerk as part of a plea deal Monday in Bibb County Superior Court.

The plea came amid jury selection for Kendrick’s second trial in the killings of two store clerks in August of 2018. A trial last summer in the cases ended in a mistrial after jurors were deadlocked.

Kendrick, 21, faced charges of felony murder after he and an accomplice, Arie Jimmelle Calloway, allegedly robbed two convenience stores and killed the clerks.

On Monday, after wavering on whether to accept the state’s offer of lesser charges, Kendrick pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and armed robbery in one of the robberies. If convicted of murder charges, he faced life without parole.

Kendrick was 17 at the time of the robberies and had been in jail since he was arrested in the weeks after.

He was sentenced Monday to 10 years behind bars, four of which he has already served, and 20 more on probation.

Kendrick at first turned the deal down, telling Judge David L. Mincey III he wanted to go to trial.

Family members and others close to Kendrick were in the courtroom and expressed frustration at his decision. One relative, Kendrick’s uncle, spoke to Kendrick and appeared to become angry before marching out of the courtroom.

After a short discussion with his attorney Floyd Buford, Kendrick decided to plead guilty.

Another attorney in the courtroom gallery, a defense lawyer for Kendrick’s co-defendant, turned to Kendrick’s uncle after the deal was struck and said, “You just saved that boy’s life.”

The case and the first trial

The clerks’ killings in 2018 were among the most high-profile cases in Macon’s recent history.

Calloway was convicted of the first killing and acquitted of the second in July 2021, while Kendrick waited more than four years for his trial, which ended with a hung jury last year. Kendrick’s trial was scheduled for 2021, but it was delayed because several jurors didn’t show up.

The mistrial last year saw heated debate between prosecutors and defense attorneys about a wide variety of circumstantial evidence, making it a tough case.

Prosecutors argued that Kendrick was the killer in the second robbery, the store at the corner of Holt and Vineville Avenue, that killed clerk Waqar Ali. Calloway had already been convicted of the first killing of clerk, Alpeshkumar Prajapati.

Calloway in particular was a key witness, as he told investigators at the time of the crime that Kendrick was his accomplice but testified during the trial that his accomplice was another man he would not identify.

Calloway, along with another purported accomplice named Vernon Ashley Jr. that supposedly drove them to the convenience store on Vineville Avenue, testified in Kendrick’s first trial last year but changed their statements between the time of the crime and the trial.

Other items including cell phone records, clothes from Kendrick’s home and texts between Kendrick and Calloway were used as evidence in the case. With conflicting statements and evidence, the jury could not decide on a verdict.