Store gets makeover in wake of killing

March 19, 2010
By

David Taber

Grand jury indicts Corliss

MONUMENT SQ.—The Tedeschi Food Store at 783 Centre St. has been radically redesigned following the Dec. 26 fatal shooting of store clerk Surendra Dangol during an armed robbery of the store.

Edward Corliss, 63, was indicted on charges of first-degree murder and other crimes connected to Dangol’s slaying on Feb. 25. He was ordered held without bail at a March 3 arraignment. While he will likely have periodic court dates in the coming year, his trial is not scheduled to begin until February 2011.

Dangol, a Nepali immigrant, was working to raise money to bring his wife and daughter to the United States. Corliss allegedly stole $746 from the store.

At the time of the killing, Corliss was living in Roslindale, on parole for the 1972 killing of a convenience store clerk in Salisbury, Mass.

Redesign

The Tedeschi at Monument Square has been significantly remodeled. Changes include the removal of a cigarette rack that used to hang over the counter, and an expansion and reorientation of the counter, moving the cash area toward the center of the store. Shoppers used to make purchases in a cramped corner between the front entrance and the counter.

Renovation work began prior to the slaying, but the changes to the counter-area were not completed prior to the crime.

Those and other changes give it a more open layout, and better sightlines. “It’s a lot more user-friendly. The renovation is great,” said Steve Lussier, a JP resident and member of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council who frequents the store.

The Tedeschi also has a new “franchise manager” who took over following the shooting. The new manager, who said his name was Abu, declined to provide his last name when the Gazette visited the store in February. He referred all questions to the Tedeschi Food Store corporate office. Repeated calls to Tedeschi headquarters were not returned by press time.

A citywide Convenience Store Safety Initiative was announced by Mayor Thomas Menino in late February, shortly after a similar slaying in Dorchester. Tips publicized as part of that initiative include removing visual obstructions from windows and countertops.

There has been an increase this year in “commercial robberies” from stores and restaurants citywide and in JP, where there have been five such robberies so far this year compared to none last year and two in 2008, according to statistics provided by the Boston Police Department in late February.

Early in February, some JP residents expressed concerns that the Monument Square Tedeschi might be experiencing a drop-off in business following the shooting.

In an e-mail sent to the local JP Moms listserv and from there to the Gazette, one local resident claimed to have learned from the former manager that business had dropped by half in the store following the shooting.

Lussier told the Gazette he did not know if business had dropped off, but has been making it a point to spend time there since the shooting, he said.

“I used to run with my coffee to go, but now I take it in the store and hang out,” Lussier said. His goal was to help combat any lingering stigma that might be attached to the store, he said.

“Why would anyone want to stay away? I am trying to combat that,” he said.

Corliss

Corliss was initially charged with first-degree murder in district court in late January. The Feb. 25 grand jury indictment—for first-degree murder, armed robbery while masked and unlawful possession of a firearm—clears the way for a trial in Suffolk County Superior Court, said Jake Wark, spokesperson for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

“The case is based a lot on what people have heard other people say…Corliss still says he did didn’t do it,” Corliss’s attorney John Hayes told the Gazette in a phone interview last week.

All murders and many other felonies are tried in Superior Court because the maximum sentence in district court is two-and-a-half years, he said. First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Hayes told the Gazette he was in the midst of reviewing the evidence the DA’s office had collected. “I am reading the reports right now…They have done their work. Now it’s our turn to look at what they have and see if it holds up,” he said.

Referring to video surveillance footage showing the Dec. 26 crime, portions of which were released to the public, Hayes noted that, “No one has identified Corliss as the person in the video. That has not changed.”

“In the end, a jury will decide,” he said

That will not happen until at least February 2011, and Hayes said it might not start until later. Trial dates are automatically set for one year after indictments, he said.

In the meantime, according to press materials, evidence that the DA’s office collected includes a wig and other clothes Corliss allegedly used to disguise himself that were found in a Dumpster near the 783 Centre St. store. It also includes a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun that Corliss allegedly used in the shooting and disposed of the next day at Revere Beach on the North Shore.

Corliss was originally connected to the robbery and killing through the Plymouth Acclaim—visible in surveillance footage—that he allegedly used as a getaway car. He allegedly affixed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology sticker to the driver’s side door of the car to disguise it following the killing.

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