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.
"Why did he lose control?" Mohamud's attorney Kevin Spitler asked during closing arguments. "He just wanted his son to succeed. He just wanted his son to be ready for that state-mandated test. He just wanted his son to do his schoolwork. He just wanted him to be educated."
"Good reason to fall into that rage? No," Spitler said.
But without an intent to kill, the lawyer told jurors, they should acquit Mohamud.
"It's a very sad and tragic case," Spitler said after the verdict. He said he would appeal.
After killing Abdi, Mohamud waited for Bile to return home and told her Abdi had run away. He went to The Buffalo News, where he worked as a security guard, and was arrested there after police responding to Bile's missing child report found Abdi's body in the blood-spattered basement.
Mohamud faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 15.