By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Rami Jaber, 26, of Dearborn Heights stood in court on Dec. 5 as Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Regina Thomas sentenced him to 35 to 50 years in prison after being found guilty of second degree murder and felony firearm.
A jury trial took place from Sept. 23 25 before the jury deliberated on Sept. 26 and found Jaber guilty of the murder.
Detroit resident Derek Roberts was shot and killed on May 13, 2018, at Citgo, 17804 W. McNichols in Detroit, after he allegedly approached the gas station counter where Jaber was working as the clerk and made a purchase when a disturbance took place between the pair.
“This court believes that Mr. Jaber, you had time to reflect on your actions and to formulate on how you will proceed,” Thomas said during the sentencing. “Mr. Jaber not only did you interject yourself into an argument that Mr. Roberts was having with someone else, you invited Mr. Roberts to stick around so that you could further — whatever was going on there.
“You came from a place of safety and prior to doing that, you invited Mr. Roberts back behind bullet-proof glass twice, once you exited from behind the bullet proof glass you sprayed Mr. Roberts in the face and then you shot him with another person in very close proximity to you so much so that when she testified and we also saw it on the video, she had to say, ‘Hey. I’m right here.’ You could’ve shot her as well.”
Thomas also said that while reviewing the pre-sentencing report she discovered that Jaber did not spray Roberts with mace, but instead with dog repellent.
“You did not see the humanity in Mr. Roberts,” she said. “The court agrees that your actions were egregious and they were avoidable. The first thing you did after you shot Mr. Roberts, you lied about what you did to the other person that was in the gas station, you told her that the gun was a blank.
“You then picked up the bullet, walked back and tried to flush it, you did not call for assistance for Mr. Roberts, you first watched the video in the gas station so that you could get your story together.”
During the sentencing, Roberts’ father, Carnell Roberts Sr., said his son was a long distance semi-truck driver and that on his day off his son would come over to the house, have a couple beers while talking important issues and allowed him to give father advice.
“Who would’ve thought — I really didn’t like him doing that job because it was a dangerous job, especially in the winter time — who would’ve thought that he would’ve got killed while trying to buy a pack of cigarettes,” Roberts Sr. said. “The only thing I have to say is that I wish the defendant had made a different decision because if he did I would have my son and he would have his freedom.”
The brother of Derek Roberts, Carnell Roberts Jr. said the murder took place on Mother’s Day and on his birthday, so both his mother and he would have to deal with that and live with that for the rest of their lives.
“I have to live with that for the rest of my life, my birthday for the rest of my life has to be known as my brother’s death day,” Roberts Jr. said in court.
According to the Wayne County Prosector’s Office, Detroit police were dispatched to the murder scene where Derek Roberts was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead from his injuries. Jaber was arrested at the scene.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said Roberts’ cause of death resulted from a gunshot to the chest and ruled his death a homicide.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])