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By THOMAS W. KRAUSE
The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - When a gunman fired a shot into Dorothy Hayes’ belly, it felt like she had been electrocuted, she said from a witness stand Tuesday.
Hayes told jurors about the December night in 2004 when two masked men walked into the Subway sandwich shop in Town ‘N Country where she worked with Danielle Miller, 22.
When the robbery was over, Hayes, 40, required surgery for her injuries. Miller was dead.
Two gunmen and a getaway driver were arrested for the crimes. One of the gunmen and the driver took plea deals and became witnesses for prosecutors.
They have identified the shooter as Phillip Austin Jr., 20. If convicted this week on charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and two counts of robbery, Austin faces mandatory life in prison with no chance for release.
Hayes testified that she was sitting at a table in the restaurant and Miller was behind the counter. When the gunmen walked in, one wearing a bandana over his face and the other with a hood pulled down tight, Hayes thought it was a joke.
“He came up to me, showing me the gun,” Hayes said. “I had this blank look in my eyes.”
The man with the bandana began to yell to his partner that she didn’t believe it was a real robbery. Then, Hayes noticed Miller shaking and scared at the cash register. The gunman with the hood over his face – whom prosecutors said was Austin – was yelling at Miller because she could not manage to open the register.
“All I can remember him saying was ‘Girl you’re too slow. You gots to die,’ “ Hayes said.
Hayes told the gunman in front of her that she was going to walk to the register to calm Miller. To get behind the counter, Hayes had to walk through the back room. While in the back, out of view from the register, she heard a gunshot; then two more.
Hayes walked out and saw the hooded man throw Miller to the ground.
“I turned around and tried to hit him so he would stop shooting her,” Hayes said. “When I hit him, he grabbed me and he shot me.”
With a bullet in her stomach, Hayes said she opened the register. The two men grabbed some money and ran out of the store, dropping cash along the way.
“As they ran out, I saw one try to shoot me again,” Hayes said. “The gun malfunctioned. I just heard a click.”
Hayes ran to a nearby WingHouse restaurant. When patrons and employees saw the blood on her shirt about a dozen of them immediately ran to help.
Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy Dawne Harden testified that she arrived at the Subway within a minute or two of a 911 call. She saw Miller on the ground.
“I called out ‘Honey? Honey? Can you hear me?’ “ Harden testified. “Her eyes were open.”
Harden said she could feel a light pulse in Miller’s neck. Then, she heard Miller draw her last breath.
Also testifying Tuesday was Marquis Alexander, the gunman who wore the bandana during the robbery.
Alexander, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, attempted murder and two counts of robbery. He agreed to testify against Austin and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
On the witness stand, Alexander seemed reluctant to testify. He spoke in a faint voice, provided mostly yes and no answers and shook his head back and forth often.
“Did you shoot anybody?” Assistant State Attorney Doug Covington asked.
“No sir,” Alexander said.
“Did Mr. Austin?”
Alexander said, when the robbery was over, he asked Austin why he killed Miller. Austin cursed, Alexander testified, and said she was taking too long.
Darrell Doby, the getaway driver, will also testify. He pleaded guilty to a robbery charge and was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.
Austin, with his long dreadlocks tied into a ponytail, sat back in his seat through most of Tuesday’s proceedings. He kept a scowl on his face.
Austin’s lawyer, Grady Irvin Jr., asked the jury to listen to all the evidence before coming to a conclusion. He reminded them that Austin is innocent unless the state proves he was the gunman and fired the fatal shots.
Miller was expected to graduate from the International Academy of Design and Technology. She wanted to become a fashion designer. Her parents often grew emotional while listening to the testimony about their daughter’s final moments.
Reporter Thomas W. Krause can be reached at (813)259-7698 or email@example.com.