tampabay.com

My friend shot the girl, man tells jurors

Phillip Austin Jr. faces life in prison on multiple charges in the fatal Subway robbery.

By COLLEEN JENKINS
Published May 16, 2007


TAMPA - She couldn't move fast enough.

A hooded man hovered behind Subway employee Danielle Miller. He pointed a gun, yelling for her to open the cash register. Freaked out, 22-year-old Miller fumbled with the touchscreen.

Just 26 seconds earlier, she had served her final customer his sandwich.

Now she couldn't open the register.

"Girl, you're too slow, " the gunman said, according to a witness. "You gots to die."

He shot Miller three times.

Later that night, when a friend asked why he killed the lady, the gunman reiterated his reasoning: "She was taking too f------ long."

Tuesday, two and a half years later, prosecutors brought to trial the man they accuse of shooting the fashion design student and a fellow employee who survived. Phillip Austin Jr., 20, faces life in prison on charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and robbery.

Testimony continues today.

His attorney, Grady Irvin, said that authorities arrested the wrong guy. But it wasn't just blue suits and badges blaming Austin.

Dorothy Hayes, who survived a gunshot wound to her abdomen, couldn't identify Austin as the shooter. His two accomplices could.

Darrell Sebron Doby Jr., 21, said he drove Austin and Marquis Devon Alexander to the Subway at 8019-A W Hillsborough Ave. on Dec. 4, 2004.

Inside the store, according to Alexander, Austin jumped the counter and focused his weapon on Miller.

Jurors watched surveillance video that caught the hooded teenagers in action.

Alexander said his friend also shot Hayes.

Alexander, now 18, proved a reluctant witness Tuesday. He whispered answers, avoiding eye contact with prosecutor Douglas Covington.

"Did Mr. Austin shoot anybody?" Covington asked.

Alexander looked down, hesitating.

"Yes, sir, " he mumbled.

Prosecutors said Alexander flipped first.

Then Alexander and Doby entered into plea deals on reduced charges and agreed to testify against Austin.

Alexander was sentenced last year to 35 years in prison and 10 years of probation. Doby is serving five years and 11 months in prison, to be followed by three years of probation.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 813 226-3337 or cjenkins@sptimes.com.