Mohammad Jamal Tafwiz, described by friends as an Afghan rebel who fought Soviet soldiers for eight years, apparently died for about $8 and a bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup, according to a hearing yesterday for the man accused of killing Tafwiz at a Fairfax County convenience store.
Tafwiz, 23, was found face down in a pool of blood behind the counter at a Lincolnia 7-Eleven about 2:45 a.m. on Sept. 25. Tafwiz, who had worked at the store about six months, was shot once in the chest and once in the back of the head.
The last item he rang up on the cash register was a bottle of Hershey's chocolate for $1.99, police investigator Edward R. Guckenberger testified yesterday at a preliminary hearing in Fairfax General District Court. Eight dollars was missing from the register, according to testimony.
A trail of blood dripped from the clerk, out the store's door and around the corner to a trash can, where investigators found the Hershey's bottle on top of several bloody bags, Guckenberger said.
Eleven fingerprints of Louis V. Arai, 19, of the 5000 block of Lone Oak Place, were found on the bottle of chocolate syrup, according to testimony. Arai was arrested and charged with murder the day after Tafwiz was found dead.
After the testimony, Judge Donald P. McDonough ordered Arai to stand trial on Dec. 3 in Circuit Court. Arai is being held in the Fairfax jail in lieu of $200,000 bond.
Arai sat in a blue wrinkled jail shirt during the hearing, occasionally turning from the defendant's table to smile at friends who were sitting on the same row as Tafwiz's cousin and longtime friend.
Arai's attorney, B.R. Hicks, argued during the hearing that Arai's fingerprints were not enough to send the case to the grand jury. "They establish nothing but a chocolate syrup bottle in a store open to the public had several fingerprints belonging to my client," Hicks told McDonough. "It seems to me the evidence has fallen far short of establishing probable cause."
Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. argued that a receipt in the cash register showed that the bottle was bought at 2:17 a.m., about 12 minutes before Tafwiz's body was found by a cabdriver.
"A blood trail leads from behind the counter out the front of the store and around the corner to that basket where there was a stack of bloody paper bags, and right on top next to them is the Hershey's syrup bottle," Horan said. "On that evidence, not only is there probable cause, but evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant was involved in the death."
Yesterday relatives and friends bemoaned the death of Tafwiz, described as a religious man who never drank or smoke and prayed five times a day. It was a death without a cause, they said, and an ugly irony.
"He was a freedom fighter back home. Bullets are raining there like it rains here," Parwiz Latif, 25, a friend, said after the slaying. "He'd been in so many dangers and he survived . . . . He came here and he just got killed. It's unbelievable."
Rahmatulla Areef, 19, a friend of Tafwiz's, said Tafwiz came to this country about three years ago to make a better life. He returned to Pakistan six months ago to marry. He was working to bring his new wife, who is now six months pregnant, to the United States.
"For $5 an hour Jamal was making money at 7-Eleven," Areef said. "He was eight years in Afghanistan fighting . . . . We lost too many people to the Russians, then he comes here and he is killed for $8."