Ahmed Sule Gets 28 Years for Fridley Sex Assault on Elderly Man
Victim's daughter recounts suffering; Sule says he's innocent.
Anoka County District Court Judge Tammi A. Frederickson sentenced Ahmed Sule to 28 years and 10 months in prison for a 2010 sexual attack on an elderly man in his home that shocked the #Fridley community.
Sule maintained his innocence in a statement to the court just before Frederickson read his sentence. "I'm going to prison for something somebody else did," Sule said through an interpreter.
In September, a jury found Sule guilty of four counts of criminal sexual conduct and one count of burglary for a Sept. 19, 2010, residential forced-entry and sexual assault on a blind, 84-year-old man in the 6800 block of Seventh Street NE.
Frederickson said she relied on the jury's finding of aggravating factors in determining the sentence. "I cannot disagree that there are substantial and compelling reasons to depart" from sentencing guidelines, she said.
She sentenced Sule to 57 months for the single count of first-degree burglary but said that sentence would be concurrent. She also gave Sule credit for 439 days already served behind bars.
The victim's adult daughter gave an extensive and emotional impact statement on behalf of her father (who died May 1), her family and the Fridley community. She detailed the decline of her father's health after the attack, relating his bone cancer to spine and rib injuries he received that day.
She also told of his fear in the wake of the assault, as well as that of elderly neighbors, who she identified as the parents of children she grew up with.
She presented a vivid image of the community impact of the crime: hearing saws on Saturday mornings during her visits from out of state—the sound of neighbors installing security systems.
Assistant County Attorney Wade Kish picked up on that image in asking for a sentence of 33 years and seven months, a term he said would be reduced by one-third to about 22 years for good behavior in prison. Even at that, he said, "Twenty-two years doesn't sound like enough for the residents of Fridley."
Defense attorney Jill Brisbois asked for a sentence of 12-19 years in accordance with state sentencing guidelines. She acknowledged the deep impact of the "awful crime" but said the attack itself was not worse than other sexual assaults in which judges keep sentences within guideline limits.
Brisbois offered as mitigating factors a broad outline of Sule's Oromo boyhood in Ethiopia and Kenya. She was short on specifics—because, she said, her client became upset and refused to say much when asked about it— but she said, "Whatever happened, it was awful."
Just before delivering her sentence, the judge said she had been struck by what she called "a rather innocuous bit of testimony."
Although there was "very little evidence of a connection" between Sule and the victim, she said, she took note of testimony that the elderly man's daily walks down the block took him just in front of or just beyond Sule's house.
That "provided an important missing piece in this puzzle," the judge said. But still, she said later, "There is much that doesn't make sense about why this happened."