Sentencing is scheduled for May 14 for Mohamed Mohamud. The young Somali-American man has been convicted of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Mohamed Mohamud was found guilty for a bomb plot constructed over a series of meetings with FBI agents in 2010. The intent was to set off a huge explosion at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
While the bomb was an inert device, the government always maintained the danger was substantial that Mohamud would eventually connect with real operatives of Al Qaeda or other groups.
U.S. Attorney for Oregon Amanda Marshall thanked members the trial team for their work.
Marshall said, “It is hopefully a very good day for this community. This has been a particularly difficult case for the city of Portland. It’s been a particularly difficult case for the Somali community. We are hopefully this will bring closure and healing to all of us here in Portland.”
Mohamud came to America from Somalia as a child refugee.
Federal defense attorneys said they felt there were many mitigating circumstances in the case. They hope to present that argument to Judge Garr King at this spring’s sentencing hearing.
Steve Sady told reporters, “We think the FBI took it too far. We are hopeful those mitigating factors will be considered at sentencing.”
Sady said the team also would look forward to opportunities to present those factors in the future, hinting at the possibility of an appeal.
The statutory maximum for conviction of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction is life in prison. But Tung Yin, who’s a law professor and Lewis and Clark Law School, says prosecutors in other similar cases have not gone for a life sentence.
Tung Yin “The government tends to go with sentencing guidelines rather than the statutory maximum. Most of the sentences aren’t anywhere near that.”
The guidelines offer a framework, which is then modified by factors like whether a defendant showed remorse. Defendants can also receive credit for time served. Those convicted in other sting operations have received sentences from 15 to 47 years. Some of those are under appeal.
Yin says perhaps the larger implication rising from Mohamud’s conviction is the message it sends to other pending cases around the country. Attorneys representing defendants in Tampa, Chicago, or elsewhere might think twice before taking their chances with a jury trial, and give a plea deal another look.