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Conviction in Brutal Child Murder Case Upheld


03/24/2014

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announces that the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of Ali-Mohamad Mohamud.

On October 18, 2012, Mohamud was convicted as charged of 2nd degree murder for brutally slaying his ten year-old stepson, Abdifatah. The presiding judge thereafter imposed the maximum sentence of 25 years-to-life in state prison.

Mohamud claimed that he was denied a fair trial because the presiding judge refused to submit the extreme emotional defense to the jury. Extreme emotional disturbance is a mitigation defense (i.e. it reduces murder to manslaughter) which must be proven by the defendant.  

The appellate court first noted the defendant’s conduct--binding and gagging a child and striking that child more than 60 times with a rolling pin--was violent and brutal. The court ruled, however, that especially violent and brutal conduct does not mean the defendant acted under an extreme emotional disturbance. Instead, the defendant must point to some proof indicative of loss of self-control in order to have the defense submitted to the jury.

In affirming the conviction, the appellate court pointed to the defendant’s matter-of-fact behavior immediately after the crime, his efforts destroy evidence, and his initial lies. The court also emphasized that when he finally decided to admit to the killing (albeit minimizing what he had, in fact, done), the defendant never indicated he “snapped” or lost control.

Assistant District Attorney Donna Milling (DA Sedita’s Senior Legal Counsel and Chief of his Appeals Bureau), successfully defended the integrity of the conviction. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Finnerty (DA Sedita’s Chief Counsel) and Assistant District Attorney John P. Feroleto (DA Sedita’s Tactical Prosecution Unit), successfully tried the case.

DA Sedita stated: “Because of the dedication and professionalism of some of our best prosecutors, a child murderer has been brought to justice and will continue to receive the full measure of justice, under the laws of NY State, he so richly deserves.”