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Skyy Mims looks around the courtroom on Friday, May 1, 2015. (Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen)

DALTON, Ga. -- Skyy Raven Marie Mims, an aspiring entertainer from Detroit accused of killing a convenience store clerk in hopes of winning the lottery, will go to prison for at least 30 years.

A jury in Whitfield County Superior Court convicted Mims of 11 charges, including murder and armed robbery, on Friday. After a weeklong trial, the jury deliberated for 52 minutes.

Mims' attorney, Carla Marable, said the people deciding her client's fate made their decision too quickly.

"The family is devastated," Marable said. "She had such a bright future."

Mims, 22, moved to the Atlanta area in January 2014 to make connections in the entertainment industry. She wanted to be a rapper, dancer, model and fashion designer.

Her roommates testified this week that she hoped to fund her creative ambitions by winning the lottery. On March 9, 2014, somebody beat, stabbed and smothered 37-year-old Dahyabhai Kalidas Chaudhari in the back of his Kanku's Express convenience store on Airport Road in Dalton.

The killer took hundreds of dollars. And about 80 scratch-off lottery tickets.

Mims burst into laughter several times during the trial Friday, including three times as Marable made a closing argument on her behalf. But when the court clerk read the jury's verdict, she stood still, unblinking.

Mims did not testify Friday, though she tried. She told Judge Jack Partain she wanted to take the stand, against Marable's wishes.

"It's my strong, strong, strong advice for Ms. Mims not to take the stand," Marable said. "There's no reason."

After talking to her attorney in private, Mims changed her mind. Marable said after the trial that she wants Partain to sentence Mims to the leanest punishment: life with the chance at parole.

She would be eligible to leave prison in 30 years, when she turns 52.

During his closing argument, Poston told the jury Mims' mental condition explains the murder.

"There's a day Skyy; there's a night Skyy," Poston said. "There's a dark side to her that she chose not to control."

Marable has maintained all week that Mims' Detroit acquaintances framed her for the crime. She lived with Kylle Alexander-Music Harewell, a music producer who had moved to Georgia. Harewell is friends with a rapper named Keisha Jones, who looks similar to Mims -- though Mims is 11 inches taller and more than 10 years younger.

On the night of the murder, Marable said, Harewell and Jones could have taken the car that Mims was using.

"Isn't it possible that he and Keisha used the Kia Soul and did this together?" she asked the jury. "It's possible he's the getaway driver."

But Poston said this theory didn't make sense. When they arrested Mims, they found latex gloves, a knife and red duct tape, the type that the killer used on Chaudhari's eyes and mouth after stabbing him.

The gloves held Mims' skin cells on the inside, Chaudhari's blood on the outside. His blood also stained the duct tape and the knife. Plus, Poston said, Marable never proved that Jones was in Georgia near the time of the murder.

"They don't really look similar," Poston told the jury. "It's superficial. ... They're both female. They're both African-American. They're both light skinned."

Poston said Chaudhari moved to the United States months before his death. He came to New Jersey but moved to Dalton to work with some people he knew from India. Customers called him "Dickey."

He was only 5 feet, 4 inches. One customer called him "the little man." They said he was friendly, though his English was not good. He was not married. He did not have children. But he has two brothers in India.

"He died because she made up her mind before she ever came into the store that she was going to kill him," Poston said.

Harewell, meanwhile, said he was glad the case was over. Before moving to Georgia, he was friends with Mims' sister and mother. He connected with her on Facebook. As a music producer, he wanted to work with her. He liked her flow as a rapper.

When he saw on Facebook that she moved to Atlanta, he sent her a message. He said she was living out of her car, so he invited her to stay with him at his father's house, then his girlfriend's.

She acted strange, though. She got drunk and yelled at him in a Jamaican accent, he said. She told him she was going to walk to Africa. One morning, he woke up and found her next to him. She said he almost died in the middle of the night.

But she was talented, too. At a bar one night, he said she took her shirt off, revealing tape over her breasts, hopped onstage and began rapping. People cheered.

One day, with her phone on speaker, he heard her talk to someone who claimed to have connections. He asked her to go on a 13-state tour with him.

On March 11, 2014, Harewell said he got a call from some friends who produce music. Mims had been working with them, they told Harewell. She was going to get a record deal, they believed.

Then Harewell gave them bad news: Hours earlier, the police arrested Mims.

He reflected on that Friday, 14 months later.

"She was about to make it," he said.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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