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Man enters not guilty plea in convenience store clerk's slaying

COVINGTON - A man who allegedly shot and killed a convenience store clerk during an armed robbery earlier this year entered a not guilty plea Thursday in Newton County Superior Court.

The defendant, Carronis Neville Hurst, 20, has been charged with murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, theft by receiving and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in connection with the slaying of 46-year-old Aslam Muhammed.

Muhammed was found shot to death behind the counter of the Pure Food Mart, 50 Morningside Drive, near Ga. Highway 162 the evening of Aug. 3. Authorities say he was the victim of an apparent armed robbery.

Hurst was taken into custody less than a week later at a residence on Mote Road.

A previous owner of the convenience store, Harry Hodges, was gunned down under similar circumstances in 1997. Three men were later tried and convicted of that crime.

In other court news, the arraignment of a man who allegedly gunned down his stepfather in July has been continued until next month.

The defendant, Christopher Nicholas Masiello, 30, is facing charges of murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and discharging of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in connection with the shooting death of Paul Larson.

According to authorities, Masiello became involved in an argument with Larson on July 7 at a home on Island Shoals Road off Ga. Highway 162.

Masiello's mother, who was at the home while the argument was taking place, reportedly went to the house next door to call 911, at which point she heard several gun shots and went back home where she saw the victim lying in the hallway. By the time EMS workers arrived on the scene, Larson was already dead.

Masiello later surrendered to sheriff's deputies without incident.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com.