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Testimony: Infidelity a factor in fatal shooting

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Marital infidelity likely played a role in the slaying of a Norcross convenience store manager who was fatally shot and robbed of the night deposit he carried home in a bag around his neck, according to testimony Wednesday.

Rajib Sarkar, 37, was apparently ambushed and shot three times in the back as he came home from work about 1 a.m. Oct. 2. He carried about $12,000 that Saturday night -- the most lucrative day of the week -- in his pockets and an empty laptop bag.

A trail of text messages and hundreds of phone calls between the victim's wife, Stephanie Sarkar, and the alleged mastermind, Mark Harper, 44, led detectives to finger him as a suspect, Gwinnett police Detective John Richter testified in Gwinnett Magistrate Court.

Harper told authorities he'd gleaned Sarkar's cash-deposit routine via his relationship with the victim's wife, Richter testified.

Sarkar placed his last call to his wife as he lay dying in the breezeway of the apartment they shared, where she found him. He worked seven days per week at the Chevron Welcome Pantry in Norcross, where his wife was employed as a cashier.

"She did come out and say she was having an affair and speaking to Harper at the time of the murder" though she denied involvement, Richter testified.

Stephanie Sarkar did not attend the hearing and could not be reached late Wednesday for comment.

Phone records suggest Harper was in New York state during the shooting. Police believe he provided a gun and information about Sarkar to a younger acquaintance -- James Grady Clark, 21 -- who also lived in Stone Mountain, .

Detectives believe Clark took a cab to and from the murder scene and opened fire when the robbery went bad. Cell phones records suggest he was at Sarkar's apartment complex before, during and after the killing, Richter testified.

Clark is charged with armed robbery and felony murder. Harper faces robbery charges. Both sat quietly through their combined probable cause hearings Wednesday following their arrests last month.

Clark told investigators he tossed the 40 cal. murder weapon somewhere in the Chattahoochee River, kept $5,000 for himself and gave the rest to an unidentified man who was supposed to send the money to Harper. He also said Sarkar put up a fight, and claimed that the weapon fired only when he tripped, Richter testified.

"It wasn't a planned murder," Richter said. "It was a planned robbery."

Judge Kristina Blum bound all charges against both suspects to Gwinnett Superior Court for further disposition. Both will remain jailed without bond.

Sarkar had emigrated from India in 2001 and previously worked near Carrollton, according to an online memorial.

Police believe the incident was isolated. Richter said aspects of the investigation remain active.