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2001 rampage leads to death sentence { October 10 2003 }

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   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6717-2003Oct10.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6717-2003Oct10.html

2001 Rampage Leads To Death Sentence
Indian Immigrant Mistaken for Arab

Associated Press
Friday, October 10, 2003; Page A20

MESA, Ariz., Oct. 9 -- A man was sentenced to death Thursday for killing an Indian immigrant during a shooting rampage four days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Frank Silva Roque, convicted of murder last week in the death of gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi, was sentenced to die by injection by jurors who deliberated over two days.

Prosecutors said Roque targeted Sodhi because he thought Sodhi was an Arab. Sodhi wore a turban and beard as part of his Sikh faith.

"This jury came with a verdict of the truth," said Sodhi's brother, Lakhwinder Singh Sodhi. "We showed a whole world this is the country of justice."

The victim's son, Sukhwinder Singh Sodhi, said the verdict brought some closure. "He's in my heart; he's still with me," he said.

Sodhi's death on Sept. 15, 2001, touched off protests in India and prompted India's prime minister to call President Bush. About 3,000 people attended a memorial after the slaying.

Defense attorneys had argued that Roque, 44, suffered from a mental illness and that the terrorist attacks triggered an episode of insanity.

Prosecutors argued that Roque had been motivated by anger and racial hatred.

"I'm pleased to see they [jurors] were able to see through the guise of mental illness," said prosecutor Vince Imbordino.

Roque was also convicted of attempted first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and endangerment for the shootings that followed Sodhi's murder. He will be sentenced Tuesday for those convictions.

Roque shot at another gas station where the clerk was a man of Lebanese descent, and at the home of an Afghan family. They were not injured.


2003 The Washington Post Company


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