Thursday, April 24, 2014
PORTLAND – A teenager from Portland who lost a long battle to be tried as a juvenile on charges of breaking into a stranger's apartment and raping her appeared in court Wednesday to face the charges as an adult.
Mohammed Mukhtar, who is now 18 by all accounts, appeared before the same judge, Richard Mulhern, he faced last month in juvenile court.
As an adult, Mukhtar now faces as much as 20 years in prison on charges of gross sexual assault, burglary and trespassing. As a juvenile, he faced no more than three years in a youth detention facility.
Since Mukhtar's arrest on May 26, the case against him has gone back and forth between juvenile and adult courts.
When Mukhtar was first charged, as an adult, Portland police used the birth date he gave them: Jan. 1, 1994.
Afterward, his attorney, Jonathan Berry, successfully argued that Mukhtar had been assigned the Jan. 1 birth date when he came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia, and that his actual birthday is Oct. 25, 1994, so he was a juvenile at the time of his arrest.
The adult charges against Mukhtar were dropped last summer and raised in juvenile court.
Prosecutors sought to reverse that, calling witnesses at juvenile court hearings in November and January in an attempt to show that Mukhtar's case should be in adult court for various reasons, including the seriousness of the charges.
Mukhtar relented on the third day of the hearings last month as final witnesses were about to be called.
In a video taken at the Portland police station just before his arrest, Mukhtar said that he broke into the 50-year-old woman's apartment on High Street, took off his shorts and underwear and put on a condom. He denied raping her.
Wednesday's appearance qualified as Mukhtar's initial appearance as an adult defendant. He was not required to enter a plea.
The judge ordered Mukhtar held in jail pending a hearing within the next month to determine whether he should be held without bail or whether bail arguments should be heard.
Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at: