Crime

Convenience store double-murder suspect told police he didn’t kill

James Elbert Daniels
James Elbert Daniels Courtesy of J. Reuben Long Detention Center

James Daniels told police he may have committed conspiracy after the killing of two people in convenience stores, but didn’t have a role in their deaths.

“A murder I didn’t do — no,” Daniels said in a recorded interview with police after the January 2015 incidents.

The statement was played in a pre-trial court proceeding on Wednesday in Conway. Lawyers argued as to whether the statements should be admissible. The judge decided to allow them.

Daniels is set for trial next week on murder and armed robbery charges. He, along with McKinley Lee Daniels and Jerome Jenkins, are accused in the 2015 murder cases of Bala Paruchuri and Trisha Stull, both employees at Sunhouse convenience stores.

On Jan. 2, 2015, Paruchuri, 40, was shot to death inside the Sunhouse store at 7406 S.C. 905. Stull later was killed at the Sunhouse store on Oak Street in Conway.

Daniels said during a police interview that he didn’t know what was going on at the time of the murders and armed robberies. He didn’t go into the stores during the incidents, he said. Solicitor Scott Hixson detailed surveillance footage, saying the suspects switched clothing and shoes during the crimes. Hixson also portrayed Daniels as the getaway driver during the robberies.

A detective on the stand Wednesday said Daniels’ statements were some of the most willing a suspect made during his years of law enforcement.

Authorities said Daniels voluntarily went to a police precinct where he was interviewed following the incidents.

Defense attorney Barbara Pratt argued some of the evidence shouldn’t be used in next week’s trial. Daniels made some of the statements before officers read him his rights, she said.

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong

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