JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) – The man convicted of shooting and killing a Jeffersonville convenience store owner in a robbery last year will spend the next 50 years in prison.
Antonio McRae was sentenced Thursday for the murder of Praful Patel, a beloved community member and family man in Jeffersonville.
“I’m sorry for taking away your family,” McRae said in the courtroom, speaking directly to Patel’s family. “I’m sorry, please find it in your hearts to forgive me.”
McRae’s family members testified before the judge, pleading for mercy for him during the sentencing hearing. McRae accepted a guilty plea this year after admitting to police that he’d shot and killed Patel inside the Stop N Go on Allison Lane in Jeffersonville in October 2018.
McRae told the judge he’d intended to rob the store because his kids were hungry and he couldn’t pay his rent. He fired the gun, killing Patel and ending the life of the well-loved father and respected community member.
“I will not make excuses because there are none,” McRae said to the Patel family during the sentencing hearing. “There are no words I could say to you that could take this pain away.”
McRae’s attorney, David Mosley, said he believes McRae to be genuinely remorseful, ready to take responsibility for his role in what happened. He said this is a difficult day for many, both McRae’s family and the Patel family. Mosley said he himself knew Patel.
“He was always there, smiling, helpful, good guy,” Mosley said. “It’s a tragedy.”
McRae has a son and two daughters. Mosley said with this sentence, now both families will live their lives without their father.
“His children, they didn’t do anything wrong,” Mosley said. “They don’t have a dad, they’re not going to see their dad now.”
“I’m not a bad person,” McRae said. “I just made a poor decision.”
McRae could have been sentenced to 45 to 65 years in prison for felony murder under Indiana law. The judge sentenced him to 50 years, less than the 65-year maximum that Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull had sought.
“Mr. McRae stole the rest of the natural life of the victim in this case and he owes that to the state of Indiana, the rest of his life,” Mull said. “So, I would have been happier with the 65 years. But I tell you what, I’m thrilled to death to get a 50-year sentence today mere months after the crime, and it’s a testament to good police work.”
The Patel family sat quietly in the courtroom as they watched the man who killed their family member sentenced to spending decades of his life in prison. Mull said the sentence brings a quick resolution for the community and brings justice for the Patels.
“They were happy with the conviction,” Mull said. “I believe that they’re happy with the sentence. They’re ready to move on.”