The man convicted in December in the 2014 shooting death of a man in a Brighton Avenue apartment was sentenced Thursday to 39 years in prison.
Abdirahman Haji-Hassan faced a potential sentence of 25 years to life. There is no probation for murder in Maine, so Hassan can’t be released early.
Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam asked Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren to send Haji-Hassan to prison for 45 years, saying he hadn’t taken responsibility for the shooting death of Richard Lobor or expressed remorse for it.
Haji-Hassan’s lawyer, Molly Butler Bailey, asked for a sentence of 28 years – a base sentence of 30 years minus two years for mitigating factors. Haji-Hassan grew up in war-torn Somalia and lived in a refugee camp before coming to the U.S. at the age of 7, and he has lived with relatives since then.
But Warren said he was swayed by the fact that Lobor was shot after interceding in an argument over a cellphone between Haji-Hassan and another man, and because after shooting Lobor in the leg, Haji-Hassan didn’t immediately fire the fatal shot into Lobor’s head.
“There was this pause and there was a moment … (when) things could have ended right there,” Warren said.
Warren also cited Haji-Hassan’s criminal record, which includes a string of convictions for misdemeanors by the time Haji-Hassan was in his early 20s, suggesting he “was acting in a purely anti-social manner,” Warren said.
Lobor’s family spoke tearfully of how they have been affected by the murder. Richard Lobor’s father, Robert Lobor, told Warren that the family left South Sudan for the U.S. in 2003, looking for a better – and safer – life.
As his first-born son, Richard “was a special gift from God,” and his family had built a better life in the U.S., Robert Lobor said.
“Everything was good,” he said. “I don’t know why this happened.”
Lobor’s sister, Lily Lobor, paused repeatedly to cry as she recounted her close relationship with her brother. “He was my friend, my brother, everything. He was always there when I needed him,” she said. “I don’t know who I am anymore.”
Then, pivoting to look directly at Haji-Hassan, she pointed and said, “I don’t care if anything happens to you, if you die tomorrow.”
Haji-Hassan, who didn’t speak during the hearing, looked at Lily Lobor as she spoke, but didn’t appear to react. He also gave no visible reaction on hearing the sentence.
Robert Lobor said he was hoping for a longer sentence.
“It’s not enough,” he said of the 39-year term. “Forty-five (years) would be fair.”
In asking for the longer sentence, Elam called the killing “cruel and vicious” and noted that Haji-Hassan fled afterward and was arrested after being tracked down at a relative’s house in the Midwest. He was arrested in Minneapolis about a month after the Nov. 21 murder.
She also described an earlier incident when Haji-Hassan allegedly insulted two police officers and said he would find one officer’s wife, tie her up and rape her.
That elicited Haji-Hassan’s only reaction during the two-hour hearing. He said, “whoa” and put an arm out with his palm upturned, apparently questioning Elam’s account of the incident.
Bailey, however, said at least some of Haji-Hassan’s behavior was likely linked to his childhood in Somalia, where his first five years were marked by “sustained and intense fear.”
Then, after being put in the refugee camp, he was sent to the U.S. and separated from his mother. “His childhood was marked by loss, after loss, after loss,” she said.
Because of his young age, Haji-Hassan, 25, could be a good candidate for rehabilitation, Bailey said.
“He has a spark of hope and what we’re asking for is a sentence that does not extinguish that flicker of hope,” she told Warren.
Haji-Hassan’s aunt echoed that thought.
“I believe in him, that he can change,” Haliimo Mahamud said through an interpreter.
Bailey said the conviction, the sentence or possibly both will likely be appealed. An appeal must be filed within three weeks.
Haji-Hassan’s sentence will include the two years he has been in jail while awaiting trial and sentencing.
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: