Victor Rivera to be tried in September in Fort Wayne Meijer gas station clerk’s killing

Rivera (Courtesy of the Allen County Sheriff's Department)

A man accused of killing a Meijer gas station clerk Thanksgiving night has agreed to a September murder trial.

Victor Rivera, 22, of the 5800 block of Kelso Lane, will be tried Sept. 17-20 in Allen Superior Court. Rivera, aka Victor Esposito, appeared Tuesday before Allen Superior Judge John F. Surbeck. Rivera is charged with two counts of murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and firearm used in commission of offense.

Rivera is accused of shooting Jacob Walerko, 25, in the head with a sawed-off shotgun Nov. 23 at the Meijer gas station, 6309 Lima Road. Walerko was pronounced dead inside the station. A carton of Newport cigarettes was taken by his killer, who was seen on video surveillance.

Rivera, who has a prominent tattoo on his face, has been in custody since the day after the crime after a witness said a man with a tattoo on his face earlier had made threats to the gas station workers about coming back and getting even because he did not get a job, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in Allen Superior Court. The witness also allegedly picked out Rivera’s photo from an array.

When Rivera was arrested, he allegedly had five packs of Newport cigarettes with him and was seen on a Facebook page for Victor Esposito wearing the same clothes as the killer was seen in on the surveillance images.

Two friends also said he gave them Newport cigarettes after the time of the killing, and Rivera’s mother identified him as the man she saw in media accounts of the killer, according to the court documents.

Rivera is scheduled to next appear in court July 30.

RELATED STORY: UPDATED: Murder, robbery charges filed in Fort Wayne Meijer clerk’s killing; victim ID’d; Allen County prosecutor discusses Rivera’s previous case