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Norwalk Woman Mourns Slain Friend

Michael Edwards is only 3 months old, but his mother has plenty of things in his scrapbook: the pregnancy test that showed he was on the way, news items from the day he was born and now, a photograph of him sitting in the lap of an important town official, the "mayor of Connecticut."

That last item will be bittersweet for Michael and his mom, because it only came about through the death of a friend, Jose Joaquin Morales.

Morales was shot to death in October 2009, the victim of a robbery. His accused killers were being arraigned Thursday in connection with the slaying.

Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia was also at Norwalk Superior Court Thursday, as were Toneisha Edwards and her son.

Edwards said she was there because she had been caught driving on a suspended driver's license. It was a mistake, she said; she didn't know it was invalid. Waiting for her last court date she was surprised to see Moccia sitting across the way. "Is that the mayor?" she said. "What's he doing here?"

Moccia was there to see Alain Leconte, 22, and Mustafa Jacobs, 24, arraigned on felony murder charges in Morales' slaying.

"God bless them that they found the killers," Edwards said when she found out about the arraignment. "I knew the guy. My husband was more mad than anybody. That was not fair to that guy."

Edwards said she met Morales at the gas station, when she and her husband had car trouble. "We were asking him questions ... and he said, 'You let me know where you live I could come after work and I could check your car out,'" she said. "And that's how I knew Jose."

Morales, who worked two jobs and sent money to his family in Guatemala, was just being a nice guy, she said. After that, they always went to the Miracle Shell station, because Morales worked there. "Even though we knew the money wasn't going to him, we would give that Shell gas station our business," she said. "Once he died, I never went back."

Morales was shot in the head as he worked the night shift at the Miracle Shell gas station on West Avenue. His death has been called an assassination because he was face down on the floor, complying with the robbers' demands, when he was shot.

"To die like that, it didn't make no sense," she said.

Seeing the mayor was a thrill for Edwards; after a brief hesitation, she went and asked if he would hold her baby for a photograph. Moccia agreed, which meant a lot to Edwards, saying he is the "next thing to the president." She was annoyed that she had missed her own photo op with the mayor; he sat next to her at her graduation from Briggs High School, but her mother's camera wasn't working.

"I'm excited for all types of reasons," she said. "My case is about to get thrown out; I seen the mayor."

She was also glad that the police officers sitting next to Moccia, Lt. William Lowe and Detective James O'Leary, had worked to make the arrests. "That's a beautiful thing," she said. "It feels good when they find somebody ... because that means they didn't give up."

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