Smithfield man gets 45 years for 2019 7-Eleven shooting

Published 6:28 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2022

A 22-year-old Smithfield man will spend the next four decades in prison for first-degree murder.

A judge sentenced Rojawn Warren on Oct. 24 to 45 years behind bars for killing 21-year-old Desmond Smith on the night of Nov. 13, 2019, at the 7-Eleven on West Main Street. 

Warren  had pleaded guilty on Oct. 25, 2021, to the first-degree murder charge as well as one count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, one felony count of shooting into an occupied building and one felony count of carrying a concealed weapon (second offense).

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One felony count of attempted malicious wounding, a second count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony and four additional felony counts of shooting into an occupied building were not prosecuted.

Warren received a 60-year sentence for the murder charge, with 20 years suspended, plus 10 years of supervised probation upon release. He received an additional five years with three suspended, and 10 years probation, for shooting into an occupied building and an additional three years with no time suspended, and 10 years probation, for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and two years all suspended and 10 years probation for carrying a concealed weapon.

Deja Warren – who is Rojawn’s cousin, according to Isle of Wight Commonwealth’s Attorney Georgette Phillips – testified before Rojawn’s grand jury indictment in 2020 that she and Smith had encountered Rojawn at the 7-Eleven around 10 p.m. the night of Smith’s murder. There, the two men got into a fistfight and Rojawn pulled a gun and began shooting at Smith. Deja said she ran out of the store and hid behind the garbage bins until Rojawn had fled.

Smithfield Deputy Police Chief Chris Meier, then a patrol lieutenant, testified that he’d collected 30 bullet casings at the scene that appeared to come from the same weapon. Smithfield Patrol Sgt. Joshua Powell further testified that Smith’s body had been found between the gas pumps at the 7-Eleven’s front entrance with multiple gunshot wounds to the face.

Rojawn initially faced a charge of second-degree murder, which was upgraded to first-degree murder at some point between his February 2020 indictment and October 2021 guilty plea.

Rojawn and Smith, who was also from Smithfield, “apparently knew each other,” police told the Times in 2019. Smith, according to the Times’ past reporting, graduated from Isle of Wight Academy in 2017 and had been employed at Leibherr Mining at the time of his death.

According to his obituary, Smith attended Smithfield High School prior to transferring to IWA, though it’s unclear whether he ever crossed paths with Rojawn during their time at SHS. Rojawn graduated Smithfield High in 2018.