Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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Shabazz sentencing today; wants to reverse plea deal


Shabazz: "My spirit just wasn't
comfortable taking the plea"

KINGSTON – Kingston civil rights activist Ismail Shabazz is due back in court today for sentencing. He took a plea bargain October 28 just before trial for weapons charges.

The agreement hammered out with prosecutors mandated two years in prison for one count of attempted weapons sale, plus three years of parole. Right to appeal was waived.

However, in a recent twist of events, defense attorney Michael Sussman has requested to be removed from the case, so that Shabazz can withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial.

If the motion is accepted by Judge Richard McNalley Jr., the original 16-count indictment will be prosecuted against Shabazz, and he risks up to 35 years in prison.

Shabazz has no lawyer at this time if Sussman is allowed to be removed from the case. It is clear whether Shabazz has a compelling argument to reverse the plea.

If McNalley rejects the motion to withdraw the plea bargain, he could order Shabazz off to jail for two years.

“My spirit just wasn’t comfortable with taking the plea,” Shabazz said from his home on Prospect Street in Midtown Kingston. “I wanted to fight it, because this case is bigger than me.”

Shabazz said family members support his decision to attempt a full trial. “They know I’m taking a big chance. Everything that I turned my life around for is at a standstill. So I’d rather fight and take the chance to convince the jury that I’m not that type of person.”

Police arrested Shabazz on June 26, 2015, after a year-long criminal probe involving an undercover federal informant. He was originally charged with illegally selling six firearms.

 


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