“Defense attorney Valerie Masters, who vowed to appeal the conviction, said [Fares] Mustafa was also a victim of violence. Growing up in a strict Muslim community in New York City, Mustafa was beaten daily by his father, she wrote in court papers. His mother was powerless to intervene because she, too, was the victim of horrific abuse by the man, who became her husband in an arranged marriage typical of their Palestinian homeland.” This presentation makes Masters sound positively “Islamophobic”: a “strict Muslim community” in which Mustafa “was beaten daily by his father”? An “arranged marriage typical of their Palestinian homeland”? In any other context Masters would be denounced as a racist, bigoted hatemonger.
But she is actually playing a canny game: she could have said that Mustafa grew up in a “strict community” in which he was beaten daily, and that his parents had an arranged marriage as was “typical in their homeland,” without drawing attention to Mustafa’s Muslim background. By making a point of doing so, she is signaling that to give this poor victim Fares Mustafa a 100-year sentence is another manifestation of “Islamophobia,” and if Florida officials want to avoid these charges of “Islamophobia,” they should reduce his sentence.
WEST PALM BEACH — A 33-year-old Wellington man on Monday was sentenced to 100 years in prison for fatally shooting a Jupiter man and critically wounding the man’s girlfriend during a 2010 break-in at the duplex they shared.
Looking at Fares Mustafa, who was wearing a blue jail jumpsuit with his arms and legs shackled, Palm Beach County Court Judge Barry Cohen called Mustafa’s decision to shoot Katie Coonrod as she cowered in a closet reprehensible.
“For what?” Cohen asked. “To steal money? Drugs?”
However, he rejected pleas from prosecutors and victims to hand Mustafa two consecutive life terms.
Mindful that a jury in June convicted Mustafa of second-degree murder, not first-degree, pre-meditated murder, for killing 31-year-old John Anderson, Cohen said life sentences weren’t appropriate. Mustafa also was convicted of attempted first-degree murder for shooting Coonrod.
Kenneth Anderson insisted that two life sentences weren’t sufficient punishment for the man who killed his brother, the father of a young girl. “I would prefer death,” he said, adding that he recognized that wasn’t possible.
Too traumatized to talk, Coonrod wrote Cohen a letter, explaining how her life has been unalterably changed since Mustafa broke into the apartment, killed her fiance and shot her three times after she fled into a walk-in closet.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t replay that night over and over again,” she wrote. “When you killed John, you killed a huge part of me. I live the life of a person I don’t even recognize anymore.”
Marcia Scheppler, who lived next door to Coonrod and Anderson, called Mustafa “soul-less.” She and her then-12-year-old daughter, Melanie, were sleeping when a stray bullet crashed through the wall and came to rest in their mattress.
Even though they immediately moved out of the duplex on Allen Street in the Heights of Jupiter, Mustafa robbed them of their ability to feel safe in their own home, both said.
Defense attorney Valerie Masters, who vowed to appeal the conviction, said Mustafa was also a victim of violence. Growing up in a strict Muslim community in New York City, Mustafa was beaten daily by his father, she wrote in court papers. His mother was powerless to intervene because she, too, was the victim of horrific abuse by the man, who became her husband in an arranged marriage typical of their Palestinian homeland.
When Mustafa’s mother finally escaped by moving Mustafa and some of his four sisters here, he rebelled from his strict upbringing by embracing drugs and alcohol. His three children were taken away from him after one of his children fell off a second-floor balcony when Mustafa’s wife was in a drunken stupor, Masters wrote.
Mustafa told police he broke into Anderson’s apartment after a friend told him he could find oxycodone and Ecstasy pills and at least $100,000 inside. During the trial, Masters argued that another man staying at the duplex, Andrew Thomas, was the triggerman. She pointed out that when nurses at the hospital asked Coonrod who shot her, she wrote, “Drew.”
However, Coonrod testified she was sure Thomas hadn’t shot her. Further, she said, while she knew Anderson sold prescription drugs she was never involved in the illicit operation.
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