here are certain crimes that can be wiped away as mere indiscretions of youth. For the more serious ones, the youth may even have to serve some time in a juvenile detention center. Then there’s the really abhorrent crimes that could see the youth go straight from the juvenile facility to prison. That was the situation that was in front of this 20-year-old Somali refugee in Utah, but the judge decided to let him go on probation. Unfathomably, the judge rendered the decision in spite of an impassioned plea from one of his still-terrified victims.
As the Daily Mail shares, 20-year-old Mohammed Ali Mohammed has been serving time at a Salt Lake Valley juvenile detention center for the past six years. When he was 14, he plead guilty to the rape, sexual assault and kidnapping of two female victims in separate incidents. As he was about to age out of the juvenile system, prosecutors were looking to have him continue his sentence in an adult prison. The judge saw things differently, and Mohammed was sentenced to five years of probation instead.
Judge Vernice Trease handed down the controversial decision. The defense explained how wonderful he had been during his time in custody, and that Mohammed also had a rough childhood. Mohammed appeared in court and spoke on his own behalf, and he would further tug at the heartstrings.
“I was a monster,” he said. “There is nothing that I could say or do that could restore what I did to them. The only way I can show them I’ve changed is how I live my life.”
He would also note that he was responsible for ‘very, very horrible things,’ and his victims concur. One of them appeared in court to explain that she was terrified at the prospect of him being on the street again. Mohammed attacked her and raped her in her own home, and he would then force the woman to take money out of an ATM at knifepoint.
“He did adult crimes and should have an adult sentence to match what he did,” she explained.
Mohammed was ultimately apprehended due to surveillance video taken at the ATM. The attacks occurred on successive nights, and the other victim was also attacked outside of her own home. That woman was once a promising college student, but her life completely fell apart after the attack, as prosecutor Coral Sanchez-Rose told the court.
“We just lost track of her. I don’t know if she’s homeless, I don’t know where she’s staying at; we’re unable to contact her,” Sanchez-Rose said. “Clearly, this has had a great impact in her life.”
Nonetheless, the judge still felt that probation was the appropriate course of action. Mohammed will be required to wear an ankle monitor, have weekly check-ins, and the judge made it clear that if he steps out of line again that he’s going away for a long time.
“I won’t let you down,” Mohammed told the judge.
We sincerely doubt that will provide the victims or their families with even the slightest bit of solace.