Suspects in store owner's killing stand trial

by: Dave Huddleston Updated:

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ATLANTA —

The suspects in the killing of a long-time Atlanta store owner stood trial Monday.

The two shooting suspects, Otis Ricks and Demario Carmen, sat before Judge Constance Russell in the Fulton County Courthouse.

Ricks and Carmen are accused of killing 53-year-old Vanessa Thrasher, the owner of OT Lounge and Soul Food Grill Aug. 16.  She was shot seven times.  Police said she fired back, hitting Carmen in the arm.  He was arrested at a Clayton County Hospital with Thrasher’s identification.

Thrasher was shot and killed just weeks before she was set to testify in a separate murder trial.  Investigators aren’t sure if her death was related to the trial, or just a robbery that ended with a killing.

The two other defendants, Christopher Pension and Gerald Peterson, are also facing murder charges, but not the death penalty.  All four defendants are believed to be members of the CRG street gang, also known as the Campbellton Road Gangsters. No one from Thrasher's family was inside the courtroom.

The next court date for the group is scheduled for March.