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After witnesses claimed that the former soldier screamed racial and religious remarks at his victim, he was found guilty of the “road rage” murder of a Muslim man and given a 55-year prison sentence.
Four years after shooting Afghan-American Mustafa Ayoubi, 32, to death by the side of the road in northwest Indianapolis, Dustin Passarelli was found guilty of murder.
Prosecutors say that Passarelli followed Ayoubi off of the main Interstate 465, and a fight broke out between the two men. Witnesses at the scene said that Passarelli made several anti-Muslim comments and told Ayoubi to “Go back to your country” before shooting him.
The case caught the attention of the FBI and happened while lawmakers in Indiana were talking about new hate crime laws. The bill was weakened, though, when a “bias crimes” law was passed six weeks later. Some people have said that this law doesn’t do much to stop hate crimes.
Passarelli told police that he followed Ayoubi off the highway to an apartment complex and shot him in self-defense after Ayoubi reportedly tried to punch one of his car windows. He was not charged with a hate crime and was not brought before a federal court. He also said that his time in the war gave him PTSD.
Local media reported that Ayoubi was shot eight times, once in the shoulder and seven in the back. Police found no damage in Passarelli’s automobile.
Ayoubi had made a life for himself in the United States after coming as a refugee from Afghanistan.
Zahra, Ayoubi’s sister, said that justice had been done when the judges found Passarelli guilty. She had told Al Jazeera that he was “kind, caring, and very smart” and that he was a “rock” for his mother.
“A soul so bright, ended by hate in the middle of the night. “He was more than a victim. He was a flame. He stood up and made hate look bad,” Zahra wrote on Twitter.