A D.C. Superior Court jury convicted a 25-year-old Northeast man yesterday of armed robbery in connection with an incident last March in which the owner of Sol's liquor store on Benning Road was fatally shot.

The jury, which began deliberations Friday, returned a verdict of guilty against David Anderson in the armed robbery of Roy Smith, the popular owner of the Northeast liquor store at 1835 Benning Rd. NE. The jury found Anderson not guilty of first degree felony murder while armed in connection with the incident.

Smith, 49, was shot in the head March 1 as he was leaving American Security Bank at 7th and H streets NE. He had just withdrawn $17,000 to use in cashing public assistance and government payroll checks for his customers. A Potomac resident, Smith had taken over the store from his father-in-law 15 years ago.

Judge Fred B. Ugast set Nov. 7 for Anderson's sentencing. He faces a prison term of 15 years to life. Had the jury convicted him of felony murder, he would have faced a mandatory sentence of 20 years to life.

Anderson, of the 1100 block of Oates St. NE, was arrested at his home two days after Smith's shooting and charged with homicide. Police said tips and general community involvement led to the arrest.

Two prosecution witnesses testified at Anderson's trial last week that they heard a shot, turned to see Anderson standing near Smith and watched him flee with the cash. But neither of the witnesses actually saw Anderson fire the fatal shot.

The Sol's liquor store run by Smith proved to be a haven over the years for poor people who needed to cash government checks. At the first of the month people would line up 40 deep inside the store, waiting to get their checks cashed.

The going rate in the neighborhood was 2 percent to 5 percent of the check amount for that service, but Smith often charged little or nothing to people too poor to keep bank accounts. "He was one of the nicest fellows that lived," said William Lawson, who operated a dry cleaning store near Sol's.