Wednesday, 23 October 2019

guide star facebook twitter youtube instagram subscribe

N News

Man charged with hate crime against Muslim man now free

By Erin MacPherson, For CBS 12, On 24 May 2018, Read Original
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (CBS12) — 

A little less than two years ago, a man was attacked at a mosque on the Treasure Coast.

Abdel Abdelhammed was outside the Islamic Center when he said a man attacked him. That man was later identified as Taylor Mazzanti.

All of it was caught on camera. 

Mazzanti was facing life in prison, but instead he spent only 25 days in jail and was put on four years probation because the attorneys on this case came to an agreement on a plea deal.

"We were getting close to trial and sometimes that’s when defendants want a plea when they’re feet are getting held to the fire," said Brandon White, an assistant state attorney for St. Lucie County.

White said they were gearing up for trial, only about two to three months away. White said he only agreed to the plea deal because Abdelhammed didn't want Mazzanti to spend any time in jail.

"He actually forgave the defendant and wanted to move to with his life," White said. "I was surprised because if it happened to me or a family member, I would want some serious time. I was very impressed by the victim that he was so forgiving. I admired him for that because that’s something I couldn’t do."

White said even though Abdelhammed didn't want Mazzanti to serve time, he said some time behind bars was necessary.

"So he could have some time to see what the rest of his life could have been, what many years could have looked like," White said. "Hopefully to kind of scare him straight."

In the agreement, Mazzanti was required to not make contact with Abdelhammed in the future and has to go to anger management classes. White said he also had to give Abelhammed $9,100, which he said was so important so he could get his tooth fixed that was knocked out the night of the attack. White said typically victims don't get those requests, so that was a big deal.

Abdelhammed was already given that money.

Wilfredo Ruiz, the spokesperson for the Islamic Center in Fort Pierce, said they were a victim in this crime too. He said he didn't want to comment on Mazzanti's release until they were able to speak with the victim directly.

CBS12 reached out to Abelhammed directly, but have not heard back yet.

Dr. Bassem Alhalabi, president and founder of the Islamic Center in Boca Raton, said forgiveness is key.

"As long as he has learned his lessons and he learned that his attack was a crime and he promised he will never do it again," he said. "In other words, be a good citizen again. Of course, why not? Why should he spend the rest of his life in jail? As long as he is really turning into a good citizen."