Police: Slaying in Pr. George’s motivated by pizza and chicken wings

March 30, 2011

Police have arrested three men in connection with the slaying of a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver in Seat Pleasant on Sunday night, and law enforcement sources say the killing was motivated almost entirely by pizza and chicken wings.

Ricardo L. Barton, 22; Desmond E. Garner, 23; and Gregg J. Starks III, 22, have been charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the slaying of Paul J. Bennett, 38, who was fatally shot outside an apartment complex in the 6800 block of Seat Pleasant Drive, authorities said.

Barton, who lives in Southwest Washington, and Garner, who lives in Landover, are being held in the Prince George’s County jail in Upper Marlboro. Starks, who lives in Temple Hills, was arrested in the District and is being held there while he awaits extradition to Prince George’s.

Police spokesmen had said previously that Bennett, a driver for the Domino’s store on Central Avenue and the father of a soon-to-be 1-year-old son, was delivering a pizza to an address in the 6800 block of Seat Pleasant Drive, where he was shot and most likely robbed.

Law enforcement sources said the case is as simple as it is sinister: The three men allegedly wanted pizza and chicken wings without having to pay.

Key to the case were the pizza and chicken-wing boxes, which investigators found discarded in a waste bin in the District, law enforcement sources said. With the boxes was a still-active disposable cellphone that had apparently been used to set up the robbery, sources said.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the case. Officially, police released no new details other than to provide the names of those arrested.

The sources said fingerprints were found on the pizza and chicken-wing boxes and the cellphone, which led to two of the men, and those men connected the third man to the scheme. Police are testing the items for DNA, sources said.

The sources said it appears that the men did not necessarily intend to take money, but rather wanted to take the pizza and chicken they had ordered without paying for it. One source said that Bennett still had money on him when his body was found. It remains unclear why he was shot.

Still, profit might have been part of the motive: One source said one of the men was selling the pizza to others in the District after the robbery.

Efforts to reach family members of the three men were unsuccessful.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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