Niagara Gazette

Courts

October 18, 2012

Stepfather guilty in son's beating death

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — A jury Thursday convicted a New York father of second-degree murder for shattering his 10-year-old stepson's skull with a rolling pin, rejecting defense claims that he was just trying to get the child to do homework and didn't mean to kill him.

A state Supreme Court jury in Buffalo deliberated about three hours before finding Ali-Mohamed Mohamud guilty.

"Justice has been done," prosecutor Thomas Finnerty said. In closing arguments earlier, he'd mocked the idea that there was no intent to cause death, a key element for a second-degree murder conviction.

"How about intent to slaughter?" Finnerty asked.

With the mother of victim Abdifatah Mohamud and other relatives crying quietly in the courtroom, the prosecutor had walked jurors through the prolonged and grisly killing that occurred in the family's basement April 17 while the boy's mother worked the second shift cleaning offices in downtown Buffalo.

After the boy known as Abdi had tried to run away, Mohamud stabbed him with a kitchen knife, tried to drown him in the bathroom and brought him into the basement where he gagged him with a sock and duct tape, bound his hands with an electrical cord and struck him nearly 70 times with a hardwood rolling pin, stopping only when the child was obviously dead on the floor.

Finnerty recounted a medical examiner's testimony that Abdi suffered four lethal injuries among damage covering his entire body, including a blow to the head that had "internally decapitated" him, separating the skull from the spinal column.

The child's mother, Shukri Bile, gave birth to Abdi while living at a refugee camp in Uganda, having fled violence in Somalia that killed her older children's father. Bile and her children arrived in Buffalo in 2004, where Bile met Mohamud, who also is from Somalia.

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