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Miami-Dade store clerk sentenced to seven years in crowbar killing

A South Miami-Dade store clerk who hit a customer with a crowbar, killing him, pleaded guilty Friday to manslaughter and will serve seven years in prison.

Ragheb Sulaiman, 26, was initially charged with second-degree murder in November 2010 after police said he hit Akil LaRue Oliver at the Quick Shop Food Store, 9720 SW 168th St.

Oliver’s family agreed to the plea deal in a case that had roiled the West Perrine neighborhood. At an emotional hearing Friday, Sulaiman apologized to Oliver’s family, and both families hugged afterward.

“A just resolution to a true human tragedy,” said Sulaiman’s attorney, Richard Sharpstein. “The forgiveness and reconciliation expressed between the families begins closure to an event that unnecessarily divided the community.”

Oliver, angered because he thought the store owner ``owed him a small amount of money,’’ hurled racial insults and expletives at the store clerks, according to an arrest affidavit.

Store customers, including an off-duty Miami-Dade corrections officer, tried to calm Oliver down. Still angry, he left the store.

But Oliver later came back, continuing to yell at the clerks. Sulaiman’s brother, Nabil Sulaiman, hit Oliver with a bottle, according to police.

As Oliver tried to defend himself, Ragheb Sulaiman picked up a crowbar, smashing it onto Oliver’s on the head, the arrest report said. Oliver died at the store. Store surveillance cameras captured part of the fight.

Nabil Sulaiman, charged with aggravated battery, fled the country and is considered a fugitive.