Gang-banger pleads guilty to murder -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gang-banger pleads guilty to murder

Arpana Purani Arpana Purani

May 27, 2004

Albany -- A 19-year-old Albany man Thursday pleaded guilty to murdering a popular convenience store owner in May.  Desmond Hart was sentenced to life in prison following a very emotional plea from the families.

Desmond Hart begged forgiveness from the family of P. J. Purani after he pleaded guilty to shooting him in the head in a robbery attempt. But Purani's wife said she could not forgive. "Why? Why? You could have just asked him once, and he would have given it to you, Deion, and you know it. You could have asked me, I would have given you the money."

His lawyer said Hart, the reported leader of the Crips High Home Boy gang in Albany, pleaded guilty to save his and the victim's family more grief. Purani's widow said this brought them no comfort. "No, Not really, nothing will. Life in jail is not going to bring my husband back."

 Hart lived around the corner from the One Stop Food Store and knew Purani well. He shopped there almost daily.

District Attorney Ken Hodges said, "I hope the quick resolution of this case will help them heal, and help them get on. But there is nothing that will bring him back."

Arpana Purani said, "We've never thought about this day. And now we have to look forward all our life, without his daddy, without a husband, without a son. How do you survive this?"

Desmond Hart will be eligible for parole in 14 years. Arpana Purani says she plans to sell their store, and move from Albany.

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