Confrontation preceded killing

Published 10:41 am Friday, October 15, 2010

FRANKLIN—Frank Mulhi, owner of Man Market, heard from one of his employees that Darrin Lee had stopped at the store the night of Oct. 7, shortly before he was shot to death.

A customer told the clerk that someone confronted Lee at gunpoint outside the South Street store in Franklin, Mulhi said.

“I heard they were waiting for him outside,” he said. “Once he got outside, they put a gun to his head and he tried to run.”

The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office would not comment on Mulhi’s statement or give a motive for the murder.

“The only response I can give is that it’s under investigation,” Sgt. Wanda Covington said Wednesday. “We don’t want to jeopardize anything with the investigation.”

Covington did indicate there are several other persons of interest, who may have been involved.

Lee, 28, was shot in the head at 11:37 p.m. Oct. 7 outside his home in Southampton Meadows mobile home park, which is on Route 258, about 5 miles from Man Market. He died 20 minutes later. Relatives believe the motive was robbery.

Sheriff’s deputies were at the mobile home park investigating a separate incident when they heard the gunshots, Covington said.

“That’s how they originally detained the first guy,” she said.

Two more suspects fled.

By the next day, the sheriff’s office charged Darrin L. Robinson, 20; Bruce L. Boone, 18; and Dayquan Eley, 18, with first-degree murder.

Mulhi said Lee was a regular customer who would usually stop for a soda.

“He had been a very, very nice customer,” Mulhi said.

Robert Spruill, who lives across the street from Man Market, also knew Lee.

“He was a good guy,” Spruill said.

Lee was charged with conspiracy to commit malicious wounding for an incident on Jan. 20, 2008, in Greensville County. The charge was dismissed.