Thursday September 23, 2021
Mohamed Mohamud Farah had seen a lot of violence in his 31 years, Judge Leonardo Castro said Wednesday at Farah's sentencing hearing.
His parents were killed in the Somali war; he lost a brother and an uncle, and immigrating to the U.S. had been difficult.
But on March 30, he turned that violence outward and fatally shot Mohamed Jama Samatar, 36, at the Arcade Auto Body in St. Paul's Payne-Phalen neighborhood. The shooting, according to the police investigation, was a retaliatory hit for a prior gang slaying.
"You cannot take the law into your own hands," Castro told him. "I'm not quite sure what triggered you. I hope that when you return to society, that you come out a person looking to repay the heavy debt that you now have."
Farah was sentenced in Ramsey County District Court to about 27 years. Of that, he'll serve about 18 years in prison and about nine years on supervised release.
The prosecution sought the harshest sentence because Farah "treated the victim with particular cruelty in that he shot the victim six times at close range, including once in the head," according to court documents. He will be credited with 153 days of time served.
Farah, of Minneapolis, showed little emotion during the sentencing and declined an offer to make a statement to the court. His family, five women in traditional Somali dress and two men, showed up to support him.
Samatar's family was not physically in court. His wife, Ugbed Issak, attended via Zoom, but prosecutor Andrew Johnson read her statement as well as one from Samatar's sister, Ayan Samatar.
"I blame you for taking the father of my kids and my shoulder to lean on," Issak said. "You left my kids fatherless and took away their happiness. I will never forgive you for what you did."
Ayan Samatar wished him eternal punishment for his crime.
"You took a good man's life for no reason at all," Samatar said. "You deserve the death penalty, a life for a life, plain and simple."
Surveillance video footage captured the shooting. It showed a man, later identified as Farah, walk into the auto body shop from an alley. Farah entered through the front door and encountered Samatar, and they both went into the office. As Samatar opened the door, Farah pulled a handgun from his pocket and pointed it at Samatar. Samatar raised his hands, but Farah shot him at point-blank range, according to the complaint.
Farah pleaded guilty Aug. 11 to intentional second-degree murder.