SAN ANTONIO – The first of three men charged in the shooting of a convenience store clerk was sentenced to ten years in prison Tuesday as part of a plea bargain.
Cami Jamar Payton, 19, pleaded no contest to an aggravated robbery charge for his role in the shooting of Gemunu Gamarachchilage during a robbery at his store on North New Braunfels in July 2019. Payton’s sentence was capped at ten years due to an agreement with prosecutors.
Payton held the door as his co-defendants, Zion Michael Talavera and Armando Eric Narvaez, robbed the store and shot Gamarachchilage, prosecutors said. Payton said the three of them were doing drugs when they decided to rob the store. The trio was found by police the next day in a stolen vehicle that matched the description of the SUV leaving the scene the night before. All were taken into custody after a short chase.
Prosecutor Austin Stout told the court the Gamarachchilage has undergone 93 surgeries since the shooting.
“He’s lost two-thirds of his intestines,” Stout said. “Part of his liver and spleen have been removed. His adrenal stump has been removed. He’s just been gutted during these surgeries.”
“He has endured an enormous amount of suffering and frankly, he has not much to look forward to in terms of his future, which seems rather grim."
In a statement to the court, Gamarachchilage’s wife said that her family has suffered a lot since the shooting occurred. Stout agreed with her statement.
“The whole family has lost an enormous amount, not only in losing the patriarch of their family but also their livelihood and their financial well-being,” Stout said. “I think Mr. Payton would come before you asking for mercy and frankly, it’s the kind of mercy that was never extended to the victim in this case.”
Payton admitted that he was a member of the Bloods street gang at the time of the shooting. He pleaded with Judge Jefferson Moore and fought back tears when he told the judge he is no longer a member.
“I was in the blood gang since I was 12,” Payton said, “I managed to get out because I was doing so much stuff that I wasn’t supposed to be doing and it was hurting my mom. I know what I did was wrong.”
Moore said while he was appreciative of Payton getting out of the gang, he told him there is still a penalty to be paid.
“I know you say you didn’t want to go down this way,” Moore said," but you have to understand, you walk into a store wearing bandannas... you have to know something like this is going to happen."
Payton is the only one of the three defendants to enter a plea so far in this case. Both Talavera and Narvaez are awaiting trial and face up to 99 years in prison if convicted.