The Arizona Supreme Court on Monday commuted the death sentence of a Valley man who tried to avenge the destruction of the World Trade Center by gunning down a Sikh gas station attendant just days after the Sept. 11 attacks.Tags: hate crime, death penalty, Roque, Sodhi, Sikh, 9/11, backlash.
The high court unanimously agreed that Frank Silva Roque's mental illness and low IQ were mitigating factors and should have resulted in the lesser sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.
"We have such a doubt in this case, and therefore conclude that the death penalty should not be imposed," Vice Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch wrote. "Because of the serious nature of Roque's crimes, however, we conclude that he should be imprisoned for the rest of his natural life and never be released."
Roque, 47, was distraught over the 2001 terrorist attacks and decided to seek vengeance.
Four days after Sept. 11, he shot and killed Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner whom he mistook for an Arab, and then shot up a convenience store and a home owned by people of Middle Eastern descent....
Sodhi's family accepted the court's decision.
"As long as he is away from society and our family, it's fine," said his brother, Rana Singh Sodhi, though he questioned the high court's assertion that Roque is mentally ill.
"I don't think mentally ill people can make those (deliberate decisions about) targets," he said. [Link]
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