FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A man who admitted to shooting and killing a tobacco store owner in April 2014 was sentenced to 60 years in prison on Friday.
Jamel Coleman, from Gary, Indiana, pleaded guilty to murder in January for the death of Antonio Lopez Nino.
Nino, 44, was the owner of the Smoke House Tobacco Outlet on Lafayette Street. He was found shot and killed on April 7, 2014 inside his store. He was bound with duct tape. A customer saw Nino’s body on the floor of the business through a window that morning and called police.
Jamel Coleman was arrested getting off a Greyhound bus in Indianapolis about a week after the murder. Police credit their ability to track Coleman down to tips they received from the public. Police say Coleman admitted to taking Nino’s wallet after the shooting.
When Coleman pleaded guilty to murder and robbery charges in January, prosecutors agreed to drop two other charges as part of the plea deal. Coleman got the maximum sentence for the crime on Friday, 60 years. He was also sentenced to 10 years for robbery, but he will serve those years concurrently.
We learned in court Friday morning that Coleman was a regular customer at the tobacco store. Nino would often give Coleman food to feed his family.
Nino was a community man. His family and much of the community misses him terribly.
“He was just a very special man. The community has and will continue to miss him,” owner of Madea’s Soul Food Raymond Mac said.
Raymond Mac runs Madea’s Soul Food and moved his restaurant just a few buildings north of the tobacco store. Nino owned this and wanted to give Mac the building. They were actually supposed to sign papers the day Nino was murdered.
“I know Tony is looking down on us and I know he’s happy,” Madea’s Soul Food employee Morgan Jones said.
In his memory, they added the Antonio Burger to the menu.
“A little hot, which he would call caliente. Something that he kind of liked,” Mac said.
Nino was 14 when he moved here. Family says he had nothing and built up two successful businesses from the ground up. Deputy Prosecutor Steve Godfrey spoke on the family’s behalf.
“He’s going to be sorely missed. He was a workaholic. You talk with his family and they say the guy was working the tobacco store, the other business he was working on the weekends. He never stopped working. He was a machine,” Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Steve Godfrey said, “If people came into the store and didn’t have money, he would give them something. You know, get me back later. That kind of thing.”
Godfrey says Coleman blaming spice on the murder is not an excuse. It was a choice.
“The spice thing is ridiculous. Anyone who thinks they can take spice and get away with murder is an idiot. It’s a ridiculous defense anyways in the state of Indiana. We’re going to hammer that person.”
Coleman has also been ordered to pay the Nino family more than $21,000 for medical and funeral expenses.