ALBANI. Federal prosecutors have no evidence that the June Molotov cocktail attack was a hate crime, an attack that occurred the morning following Schenectady’s protests over the death of George Floyd, they wrote ahead of the convict’s sentencing this week.
However, prosecutors also noted that Joel Malek did not provide any explanation as to why he bombed the car, and in the preliminary investigation report he did not deny that the crime had anything to do with the victim’s race, gender or ethnicity. the prosecutor’s office wrote.
However, prosecutors also argued that time should be taken into account when determining Malek’s final sentence, adding to the “significant impact that the defendant’s crime had on society.”
Joel Malek, 43, pleaded guilty in June to one count of possession of a destructive device. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison on a sentence now set for this Friday in Syracuse.
Federal prosecutors are demanding that Malek be sentenced to terms of up to 7 years and 3 months. Malek’s defense requires a sentence of just under 6 years.
In June, Malek confessed to using a homemade incendiary device on June 5, 2020 to set fire to the car of a woman named JC in the plea. The car was parked at the corner of Page and Hamilton Streets.
Malek and another unidentified conspirator approached the car, while another conspirator smashed the driver’s side window with a hammer and fled, in accordance with Malek’s plea agreement.
Malek then approached a car with a Molotov cocktail, lit it and threw it into the car through a broken window, causing the car to catch fire, court documents say. The device was made from a bottle of champagne.
The victim, Jahonna Chaires, who spoke to The Daily Gazette a few days after the incident, said the explosion came after she tried to end a dispute at a rally in George Floyd’s Schenectady.
No one was hurt, according to Attorney Alexander P. Wentworth-Ping, but the act posed a significant risk to life. The car was also destroyed.
Justifying the harsher sentence, Wentworth-Ping noted that the incident took place on a roadway, near a public park and playground, and that the crime required careful planning and foresight.
Security cameras caught Malek and his accomplice parking four blocks from the scene and then walking through the park to the victim’s car, while Malek carried an already assembled device hidden in a plastic bag, Wentworth-Ping writes.
They then fled the scene on foot, returning to their escape car, Wentworth-Ping writes. Soon, in the face of the police, Malek lied about his involvement.
“It was not an impulsive crime,” Wentworth-Ping wrote. “The defendant planned this with at least one conspirator and then tried to deny any involvement.”
In connection with the protests, Wentworth-Ping noted that Malek’s girlfriend said that during probation, Malek did not know the owner of the car, and called the crime “sheer stupidity.”
However, “the nature and circumstances of the crime — in the early morning hours of the day following the racially motivated protests in Schenectady — must play a role in determining the severity of the crime, given that the crime could have been rationally interpreted at a time motivated by racial hostility, thereby potentially suppressing freedom words and associations, and reinforces the significant impact that the defendant’s crime has had on society. “
The prosecutor’s office also referred to a “long criminal history” of assaults, burglaries, weapons and other crimes, as a result of which he spent more than 15 years of his life in prison.
Malek’s defense attorney Michael P. McGown-Walker argued for a lighter sentence, citing a history of drug use and addiction and that the behavior was “not sophisticated and likely could have led to Mr. Malek’s detention.”
He argued that the device used was simple, and the used thick bottle did not even break, leaving DNA for law enforcement to search, writes McGown-Walker. Malek even used two vehicles that were easily traced back to him and drove through a city lined with traffic cameras. At least one camera has captured Malek’s face.
In particular, McGown-Walker did not note that Malek had nothing to do with the protest, including the victim. She did not identify Malek as the person with whom she had a verbal altercation during the protest.
“While Mr. Malek chose not to discuss the driving force behind his behavior, which is his right, he should not be labeled as acting in any kind of hostility (racial or otherwise) towards the victim,” McGown-Walker wrote. including information added in brackets. “He acknowledged the factual basis of this case. He took responsibility. The fact that he prefers not to go into the details of the incident should not be against him. “
Chaires described to the Daily Gazette after the incident how a white man, described by witnesses as an “agitator”, came close to being beaten, then she intervened to intervene – not only to keep the area calm, but also to his security.
The next morning, Chires, whose name is Black, was awakened by a smoldering car.
Then she said that in the smashed rear window of her 2005 Acura MDX, the charred remains of a Molotov cocktail and a hammer were found, which, according to Sheires, smashed the window.
The clash followed a peaceful protest in which demonstrators marched from the Schenectady County Jail along Albany Street to Brandywine Avenue, after which the marchers turned around and headed back towards Jerry Burrell Park in Hamilton Hill.
The marchers split up and went on to tell personal stories of clashes with the police, racism and inequality, which culminated after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last year.
Malek has remained in custody since his arrest on October 6, 2020. Although he faces up to 10 years in the case, he waived the right to appeal the sentence for a period of 7 years, 3 months or less.
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