Killer spared death penalty in grocer's slaying

CLEVELAND (AP) - A jury has ruled out the death penalty for the killer of a grocer whose brother was murdered in the city nine years ago.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court jury recommended life in prison without parole Wednesday for Lewis Brown, 23, of Cleveland, in the death of Mahir Sammor at his suburban North Olmsted home. Judge Carolyn Friedland said she would officially impose sentence on Thursday.

Brown was convicted of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery four weeks ago.

Sammor, an immigrant from the Middle East, established a small grocery in inner-city Cleveland where he saw his brother murdered during a robbery nine years ago.

One year ago Sammor drove home from work, unaware that Brown and another man followed him, intent on robbery.

Brown and the other man apparently thought the grocer would be carrying cash, and expected to get up to $15,000. They got nothing.

Brown's cousin, David Hines, 26, of Cleveland, is awaiting trial as Brown's accomplice.

Defense attorneys James Kersey and Ralph DeFranco said they were happy to spare Brown's life in what DeFranco called "a very difficult case."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)