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Killers Of Somali Cabbie Get Longest Sentences Allowed
The two young men who admitted shooting and killing an immigrant Somali cab driver in Seattle two years ago both were sentenced Friday to the maximum time allowed, 28 and 35 years in prison, respectively.
Brandin Thomas and Antaun Gates shot popular teacher and weekend cab driver Hassan Farah in a thrill-killing in January 2004.
At Thomas' sentencing before King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North, prosecutor Shayne Stevenson said that Thomas, 20, "executed an unsuspecting, unarmed man. They took a valued member of a community and killed him because they thought it would be a fun thing to do and maybe get them a few bucks."
Thomas pleaded guilty in January to first-degree murder and attempted robbery. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Gates, 24, who pleaded guilty only to the murder charge, was sentenced to 28 years by Judge Douglas McBroom in an earlier court hearing.
Farah was found early on Jan. 31, 2004, in his Yellow Cab, the victim of several gunshots. Police arrived quickly at the scene at South Graham Street and 23rd Avenue South, but he died before reaching the hospital.
Police and prosecutors say Thomas and Gates decided to call for a cab that morning with the express purpose of shooting and robbing the driver. They were bored, prosecutors have said. They did not know Farah.
Farah, 39, immigrated to the United States in 2003. He drove a cab to augment his income as a teaching assistant for bilingual students at two Seattle elementary schools. He also owned a wire transfer service for local African immigrants.
Farah was well known in Seattle's Somali community and was described by friends as hardworking, gentle and a doting father to his three small children.
More than 200 people attended his funeral.
Farah's death sparked an outcry not only among local Somalis and Muslims, but among area cab drivers as well. The killing helped spur security cameras to be installed inside all Seattle cabs.
Family and friends expressed relief that the perpetrators were going to jail for a long stretch -- more time than they've so far been alive.
"We're very glad to be at this court today, because we see that justice is going to happen," said Ali Hassan, Farah's brother, at Thomas' sentencing hearing.
Farah's wife, Asiya Hussein, said through an interpreter that she was experiencing mixed feelings.
"It is a very sad day for me and a very happy day for me," she said. "I have lost my husband and my children have lost their father. I want him to stay in jail forever."
Said Thomas: "I hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me for what I've done. I'm truly sorry."
By SAM SKOLNIK
March 25, 2006
P-I reporter Sam Skolnik can be reached at 206-448-8334 or email@example.com.
Source: Seattle P-I Mar 25, 2006