DALLAS (AP) — An 18-year-old has been sentenced to 38 years in prison for fatally shooting an Iraqi man taking photos of his first snowfall in Texas.
A Dallas County jury deliberated for about two hours Tuesday before sentencing Nykerion Nealon, KDFW-TV (http://bit.ly/1YXeldv ) of Dallas-Fort Worth reported. On Monday, the jury found Nealon guilty of murder in Ahmed Al-Jumaili's death. Nealon could have been sentenced to up to life in prison.
Al-Jumaili was outside his Dallas apartment complex taking pictures of snow with his wife and brother on the night of March 4, 2015, when he was shot.
Nealon was a "gun fanatic" who fired 14 shots at the apartment complex where Al-Jumaili and his family lived because he thought had shot at his girlfriend's nearby apartment complex, prosecutors said.
Al-Jumaili fled violence in Iraq to reunite with his wife. He had been in Texas just three weeks when he was killed.
Defense attorney Russell Wilson argued that although his client was at the apartments when the shooting took place, someone else pulled the trigger.
A friend of Nealon's, however, testified that Nealon pulled the trigger, and prosecutors said Nealon had searched online for how to beat a murder charge and how to survive prison shortly after the shooting.
Nealon's attorney, Russell Wilson, criticized the sentence meted out to his client as inconsistent with the almost two years behind bars assessed Ethan Couch, who was sentenced to 180 days for each of the four deaths he caused at age 16 in a 2013 drunken-driving crash. Couch was originally sentenced to 10 years' probation by a juvenile court but violated his probation. His case drew attention in part because he had used an "affluenza" defense.
"When you think of what happened in Ethan Couch's case, and that young man was charged with deaths of four people. Here this young man in an accidental, unintentional situation was charged with one death and he gets 38 years. We're in shock and it challenges your confidence in the criminal justice system," Wilson told KDFW.
However, Al-Jumaili's family believes justice was done.
"Nothing can ever bring back Ahmed — no punishment, however slight or however large, can bring him back. But they do feel that justice has been rendered today," said Alia Salem of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
Information from: KDFW-TV, http://www.myfoxdfw.com