Checking court files early today for West Seattle crime cases carrying over into the new year, we discovered something that so far as we can tell, has not been reported yet, though it happened three weeks ago: One of the two suspects in last May’s Highland Park beating/hate-crime case has pleaded guilty.
Court records show that 23-year-old Ahmed Y. Mohamed pleaded guilty December 13th to both of the charges filed against him and 21-year-old co-defendant Jonathan Baquiring – one count of robbery and one count of malicious harassment. If you don’t recall the backstory – a bloodied, dazed 15-year-old found near 17th/Kenyon (map) the morning of May 25th told police he had been beaten, burned and robbed at the 14th/Holden (map) staircase by two “black and Filipino” men who repeatedly made remarks about his race (white). In his plea documents, Mohamed acknowledges that was the motive, writing:
… I maliciously and intentionally, because of my perception of his race, caused physical injury …
Mohamed also admits to robbing the victim:
… by stealing items from his pockets while threatening to cap him, whipping him with his belt, and burning him with cigarettes. We also displayed a knife with a several-inch blade, held it to his neck, and threatened to cut his throat. We targeted [the victim] because he was a different race than we are.
Police found Mohamed and Baquiring nearby that same morning and questioned but did not arrest them. They did get DNA samples, and almost four months later, after those samples were matched to other evidence in the case, charges were filed on September 20th. Baquiring was arrested the next night, as reported here; Mohamed, not until October 11th; both have been in jail ever since.
The plea agreement document in Mohamed’s case notes that all parties agree there was “different criminal intent” between the two crimes – robbery with use of a deadly weapon (the knife) and malicious harassment (hate crime). Mohamed, who has no felony record, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. But according to the plea-agreement documents, prosecutors plan to recommend 4 years in prison for the robbery count and 1 year for malicious harassment, to be served concurrently (update: plus 24 months for the weapons enhancement – because of the knife – on the robbery count; see comments). His sentencing hearing is set for January 21st. Court records for co-defendant Baquiring indicate that so far, he is proceeding toward trial one month after that, in late February.