Thomas Larry was sentenced to death by the State of North Carolina for the murder of an off duty police officer Robert Buitrago. According to court documents Thomas Larry would rob a store and in the process of an armed robbery would shoot and kill Robert Buitrago. Thomas Larry would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Thomas Larry 2021 Information
|Probation/Parole/Post Release Status:||INACTIVE|
|Current Location:||CENTRAL PRISON|
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The evidence at trial tended to show that on 15 January 1994, at approximately 9:30 p.m., defendant robbed a Food Lion grocery store in Winston-Salem. Cynthia Pennell, a Food Lion employee who had access to the safe, saw defendant standing in the front part of the store and asked if she could help him. He said that she could open the safe for him and that if she did not, she was a dead woman. He pointed a small black revolver at her. Pennell went to the safe and opened it. Defendant took at least $1,700 from the safe and put it in a box. He put the box under his arm and went outside. Throughout the robbery, he pointed the gun at others in the store, telling them not to move.
The murder victim, Robert Buitrago, an off-duty police officer, was a customer waiting in line at a register when the robbery occurred. One witness, Chastity Adams, saw defendant point the gun at Buitrago and say, “If you move, you’re dead.” The cashier for Buitrago’s line had her back to defendant but heard him say, “Don’t move or I’ll kill you.” Defendant ran from the store, and Buitrago chased him. When Buitrago caught up with defendant outside the store, near the front doors, a struggle ensued, and defendant fatally shot Buitrago with the handgun. Some witnesses said there was one shot, and some said there were two or more shots. Buitrago died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Defendant fled on foot.
After witnesses identified defendant as the perpetrator, police obtained arrest warrants and subsequently found defendant hiding in a residence in Winston-Salem. Patrick Huey of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department testified that he overheard defendant making a statement during a phone conversation from the Forsyth County jail, after his arrest. Huey testified that defendant told the person on the other end that “when they were brought in that they would be kept separate inside the jail and for them not to tell them anything, that he wasn’t going to, and that they would not find the weapon; that he was the only one [who] knew where it was.”
At the sentencing proceeding, the State presented evidence that defendant previously had been convicted once for common law robbery and three times for armed robbery. The jury found as four separate aggravating circumstances that defendant previously had been convicted of a violent felony. The jury also found as an aggravating circumstance that the murder was committed while defendant was engaged in the commission of a robbery. The jury found the statutory mitigating circumstances that the murder was committed while defendant was mentally or emotionally disturbed and that defendant’s capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law was impaired. The jury also found five nonstatutory mitigating circumstances as well as the catchall mitigating circumstance. However, the jury recommended a sentence of death. The court sentenced defendant to death for the first-degree murder conviction and to a consecutive term of forty years’ imprisonment for the armed robbery conviction. Defendant appealed to this Court and brings forth the following assignments of error for our review.