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Appeals court upholds conviction of stepfather in boy’s beating death

A state appeals court has upheld the murder conviction of Ali-Mohamad Mohamud in the fatal beating of his 10-year-old stepson.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court rejected Mohamud’s claim that he was denied a fair trial.

Mohamud had contended that the judge who presided at his trial refused to let the jury consider his defense of extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the April 17, 2012, bludgeoning death of Abdifatah “Abdi” Mohamud in the basement of their East Side home.

If the judge had allowed the jury to consider that defense, it could have considered the less serious offense of first-degree manslaughter, which carries a shorter prison sentence than murder.

A State Supreme Court jury convicted Mohamud on Oct. 18, 2012, of second-degree murder. Justice Christopher J. Burns sentenced the 42-year-old security guard to the maximum prison term of 25 years to life.

The appellate judges based in Rochester ruled Friday that the evidence did not support a defense of extreme emotional disturbance.

While the judges acknowledged that “the evidence established that defendant bound and gagged the child before striking him in excess of 60 times with a rolling pin,” they said his behavior immediately before and after the killing “was inconsistent with the loss of control” associated with the defense of extreme emotional disturbance.

They noted that the boy had refused to do his homework and had run away from home and that a neighbor who helped the stepfather bring him home, where he later beat him to death, described the defendant as upset and tired but not angry.

They also noted Mohamud’s behavior after the brutal beating.

They said he “disposed of his bloody clothes, washed the rolling pin he used to beat the child and returned it to the kitchen drawer, cared for the two younger children in the home, waited several hours for his wife to return from work and lied to her about the child’s whereabouts, and contacted his supervisor” at work “with instructions on how to dispose of his personal property.”

“The defendant told his supervisor that he ‘killed (his) kid’ but did not say why, did not express remorse and was described by his supervisor as calm and ‘melancholy,’” they said.

The judges noted that in his statement to police, “Defendant said that the child lied to him every day and that he ‘always (told) his (step)son to go live with his father in Africa.’ ”

They said he also told police “the events of the murder, but did not indicate that he ‘snapped’ or lost control.”

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III cited Assistant District Attorney Donna Milling, chief of his Appeals Bureau, who defended the conviction before the appellate judges, and Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Finnerty, his chief counsel, and John P. Feroleto, who tried the case in court.