PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CBS12) - The estate of a boy stabbed to death during a sleepover in Palm Beach Gardens is suing Publix Supermarkets.
Corey Johnson faces one count of first-degree murder with a deadly weapon and two counts of attempted first-degree murder with a deadly weapon. He's accused of killing 13-year-old Jovanni Sierra on the boy's birthday at a home in Ballenisles on Mar. 12, 2018.
The LaBovick Law Group claims Publix illegally sold the knife that Johnson used to kill Jovanni and stab Elaine Simon and her son, Dane Bancroft.
“We have rules in Florida to keep the public safe,” attorney Brian LaBovick said. “In this case, one of these rules is to keep knives, dangerous weapons, out of the hands of children. Where they can hurt themselves or hurt others.”
The grocery store’s barcode system didn’t flag the cashier to require age verification according to the lawsuit.
In a video obtained by CBS12 News, you can see Johnson walk into the grocery store, buy the knife and walk right out.
The same knife that LaBovick says he would use to kill Jovanni Sierra.
“When they took this knife and they sold it to a 17-year-old, all the damages that steam from that sale is now the responsibility of Publix,” LaBovick said. “If Corey Johnson would have been older, they wouldn’t be responsible.”
That’s the basis of the 12-page wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Sierra’s family.
“Publix facilitated the crime by providing a dangerous weapon to a person who should never have had a dangerous weapon,” LaBovick said.
The firm claims Johnson bought the knife at Publix hours before the attack. It's against the law in Florida to sell any weapons to people under the age of 18.
Johnson, who was 17 at the time of the stabbings, is now 19 years old and charged as an adult in the crime.
"Publix has refused to change their reckless policy of selling knives to underage buyers and has spurned Florida law by intentionally failing to check identification before selling dangerous weapons to underage knife purchasers," stated LaBovick, the attorney representing the Estate of Jovanni Sierra. “Publix is fully responsible for the damages caused by their illegal knife sale and could be responsible for punitive damages if their conduct rises to the level of intentional disregard of Florida law."
Police said Johnson confessed to the stabbings because of his Muslim faith. He had a fascination with ISIS, studied the Quran, and had been watched by the FBI for more than a year.
Johnson is due back in court on Mar. 20.
Publix issued a statement in response to the lawsuit.
"It would be inappropriate for us to comment on pending litigation," said Maria Brous, the director of communications for Publix.