the DEATH that never dies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Paul Jermaine Molette lost his life for accidentally stepping on another man’s shoes, says a friend who was with him the night Molette died.

Molette, 21, died Feb. 28, 2003, after allegedly being shot by Mario Jermaine Simmons, 26, outside the Washington St. Supermarket.

Clarence Jones, 24, who knew Molette, talked Tuesday about the night his friend died as Paul Molette’s family silently listened in the house where Paul once lived.

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Jones and Molette weren’t looking for trouble when they visited Clyde’s Tornado Lounge & Ballroom the night of Molette’s death. They chose a Thursday night because it was popular with the college crowd.

What happened was Molette allegedly stepped on Simmons’ foot while dancing at the club. When Molette turned to apparently apologize, Jones said, Simmons hit him.

According to Clyde Richardson, owner of Clyde’s Tornado Lounge & Ballroom, both Molette and Simmons were ejected from the club after a brief altercation.

Moments later, shots were heard.

Asked how such a seemingly innocuous incident could have escalated so tragically, Jones replied, &uot;I think about it every day.&uot;

Kayla Molette, 17, questioned why her brother was taken so early in his life. She said her brother would often tease her, but it was his way of showing he loved her.

Kirby Molette, 12, would play video games with his older brother, along with football, basketball and baseball. Kirby said he learned from his brother and rarely fought with him.

When Jacqueline Molette talked about her son, everyone listened and agreed with her sentiments. Paul Molette was a member of Morning Star Baptist Church and sang with the choir. He enjoyed fishing and had lots of friends.

Jacqueline, who suffered a stroke after her son’s funeral and now contends with a disabling neurological malady, sat mostly silent as the conversation about her son drifted around her. His death haunts her with unimaginable grief &045;&045; causing her body to rack with sobs when his memory invades her consciousness … as it always does.

Though tormenting, the memories also bring a kind of joy to Molette’s family members.

Grandfather Benjamin Ross, 74, nodded his head.

Cousin Talisa Morgan, a Vaughan Regional Medical Center employee, was at work the night Molette died.

Morgan is planning a candlelight vigil for her cousin on the anniversary of his birthday, Thursday, at the Washington St. Supermarket parking lot. Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. and Councilwoman Nancy Sewell are scheduled to speak, as well as Morning Star Baptist Church Pastor Booker T. Booker.

The vigil will begin at 5 p.m. In case of rain, it will be held at Morning Star Baptist Church, 408 Buckeye Ave.