On Highland Park hate-crime attack victim’s 17th birthday, 1st attacker is sentenced

gavel.jpgThe father of hate-crime-attack victim Shane McClellan was in Judge Carol Schapira‘s courtroom downtown to hear the sentence for one of his son’s attackers. Before the hearing, Tim McClellan told WSB and TV photographers in the hallway, “Today’s his birthday.” [Afterward, he spoke to the media – part of the interview is in our clip above; we’ll upload a longer clip when we’re back at HQ.]

On Shane’s 17th birthday – eight months after he was beaten and tortured for hours on a Highland Park stairway, by two men who voiced a racist motivation – one of his attackers, 23-year-old Ahmed Y. Mohamed (photo below), has just been sentenced to 69 months in prison, three months short of what prosecutors had asked for.

(Added 4:47 pm, Seattle Times photo by Greg Gilbert, used with permission)
Judge Schapira said this case is “more than a headline. .. We are here not to judge you as a person, but there are consequences for the very serious act to which you have pleaded guilty. … The offense makes no sense to me. … You are a very young man; as negative as this experience as been, as negative as being in prison will be. We hope you will put this behind you, as we all do when making very serious mistakes.”

Prosecutors had recommended the high end of the “standard sentencing range,” which would have been six years. In court, prosecutor Erin Becker said, “This robbery and the actions that occurred during this robbery went far, far beyond (the average robbery) … The (attackers) held him for hours, burned him with lit cigarettes, urinated on him … The victim was a juvenile at the time, and it seems what they were aiming at was not simply robbery.” Tim McClellan decided at the last minute that he would speak to the judge, saying, with difficulty, he “can’t imagine the duration” of what happened to his son, who he says “is doing a lot better.” (Shane was not in court.)

The lawyer for Mohamed said his client was sorry and said alcohol had something to do with it … saying it was his client’s “first experience with alcohol” and noting Mohamed had been drinking Four Loko, the subsequently banned beverage. He also talked about Mohamed, who is a US citizen, having been born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and living in refugee camps when very young. Mohamed’s mother also spoke, apologizing to all involved for her son’s actions, and talking about how he helps care for his disabled sister; he spoke for himself too, apologizing, saying he felt peer pressure to drink, but saying he knows he can become “a better man.” Family members/supporters in the gallery cried as they spoke.

The judge opened her remarks after that by saying she felt sympathy for so many of those involved. But in the end, she pronounced a sentence just short of what prosecutors wanted. Technically, it breaks down to 45 months for the robbery charge, with 12 months concurrent for the malicious-harassment charge; after that, 24 months for the weapons enhancement (a knife was used during the robbery/attack). Mohamed already has been in jail about three months, which will count against the sentence.

WSB was first to report that Mohamed had pleaded guilty to robbery (with weapons enhancement) and malicious harassment (hate crime) – it happened in December, but no one in the news media had noticed; we turned it up while combing through court records on routine followups at the start of January. The second person arrested last fall, 21-year-old Jonathan Baquiring, is in the King County Jail, awaiting trial next month on the same charges.

ADDED 2:46 PM: Tim McClellan spoke to the media after the sentencing, saying he accepts Mohamed’s apology, and that he is generally pleased with how this turned out. He says Shane is doing OK. See part of the interview in the clip we added atop this story; more to come.

14 Replies to "On Highland Park hate-crime attack victim's 17th birthday, 1st attacker is sentenced"

  • MissJemmy January 21, 2011 (2:31 pm)

    Was it first published that he supposedly drank Four Loko or did that conveniently come out after that whole central WA thing?

    • WSB January 21, 2011 (2:42 pm)

      MJ – The 4 Loko was described in the charging documents, I believe (going back to quadruple-check), and I believe that was even before it became nationally notorious. There were very specific descriptions of the beverage and cigarette brands among other things found as evidence at the scene. – TR

  • Mike January 21, 2011 (2:37 pm)

    Odd, my wife was born in a refugee camp, grew up on food stamps, lived in low income housing and yet the worst crime she’s committed was 5mph over the speed limit on I-5. She even went on to put herself through the UW and get a nice job that pays a good salary and bonus. How’d she do that? Hmmmm….

  • great comments January 21, 2011 (2:47 pm)

    Love these first two comments! This character should be behind bars, the “emotional” excuses given by the lawyer are laughable. Very happy the sentence was close to what the prosecutors were asking for.

  • OP January 21, 2011 (3:08 pm)

    What is with Judge Schapira rambling and logically inane opening remarks? As people, we are judged by our actions, words, and so forth. Here, we’re judging a person’s actions; therefore, we’re judging the person. And I hope the punk doesn’t put it behind him; I hope he remembers it every damn day in prison, comes to regret his actions and asks for forgiveness from the victim, God and community.

  • bridge to somewhere January 21, 2011 (4:44 pm)

    Agreed that the opening remarks by the judge are nonsensical . . .

  • Jim January 21, 2011 (6:49 pm)

    He said that was the first time he tried alcohol…of course it was…lol. Do they really expect us to believe that, or even care for that matter?

  • alkigirl January 21, 2011 (6:55 pm)

    mike….i agree with you! i don’t give a hoot about where you came from or what you’ve been through. we have all been through “hard times” and he should be grateful that he was let into the united states of america….probably given housing, medical, food stamps and everything else we americans, who’ve worked our entire lives, and paid taxes, can’t get when we are down and out…like my husband who lost his job after 37 years. we got nothing. not one dime. so….go to prison where you belong, mohamed. i don’t care if it was your first time drinking. everyone knows the difference between right and wrong…and you were wrong.

  • Mike January 21, 2011 (8:27 pm)

    Alkigirl, ‘We’ Americans all have access to all the same low income housing, food stamps, etc. The difference is you have to be incredibly hard up to qualify. If you make over $15k with a family, you probably don’t qualify. I’ve been unemployed, a few times too, it sucks but it’s hardly being from a war torn country you fled because you and your family would be killed off if you didn’t.

  • (required) January 21, 2011 (11:19 pm)

    Plainly, what this defendant did was bad, and he plainly deserved a romp in a jail for a lot of years. But remember, many other people are regularly victimized by other crimes — particularly fraud — and see their perpetrators go without jail time. In fact, that’s not to mention that all too often, a lot of fraud does not even get investigated or prosecuted. Violent criminals like Mr. Mohamed should not be the only ones seen as deserving to go to jail. While we all probably agree that Mr. Mohamed’s incarceration is a great bit of news for all of us, I bet there are fraud victims reading this right now who wish some fraudsters they know would only get the same greybar hotel that Mr. Mohamed got. No one really wants more jails and more police, judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors, but we simply need more. So while I’m glad about Mr. Mohamed, I see this as one itsy bitsy tiny piece of justice done; and there’s so much more yet to do.

  • Slick January 22, 2011 (8:38 am)

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • CB January 22, 2011 (9:03 am)

    This guy gets nearly 5 years in prison, and the killers of Tubaman got 3 months.

  • SickOfItAll January 22, 2011 (6:03 pm)

    Let him serve his time. Then deport him back to Somalia to hang out with the same type of thugs he turned out to be. America doesn’t need him.

  • Girl January 22, 2011 (11:33 pm)

    Miss Jemmy-where have you been that you did not know 4-Loko was found at the scene? or for that matter who cares what he drank. He did wrong-knows it no matter what continent his is from and is trying to take advantage of everything another citizen knows is available and doesn’t take advantage of – I am sorry but I say deport. To many other people want to be here that are good upstanding people.

    Kudos to Tim for believing in his son and having a good relationship that he knew this was fact. Rants to Seattle Police for pulling this off in the beginning as gang violence.

Sorry, comment time is over.