A city father who was accused of almost killing his son by strangulation last year was convicted Monday of a top-level assault count.
Khalil Hakim-Peters, 32, of Delamont Avenue, heard the verdict shortly after 2 p.m. The Schenectady County Court jury found him guilty of first-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment, attorneys said.
Hakim-Peters was found by the jury to have choked and slammed his son to the floor March 11, 2009. The boy nearly died and lost consciousness for a month, prosecutors have said. It was Hakim-Peters’ second trial, his first in February ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict on the most serious counts against him.
Prosecutor Michele Schettino said later that she believed the evidence supported the jury’s verdict.
The boy, now 14, continues to recover from the attack, Schettino said. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and the extent of his injuries are still being realized. Experts testified at trial that similar head injuries can take as long as 24 months for the damage to be fully realized.
In children, Schettino recounted from testimony, the full extent can take longer. He still goes for physical and speech therapy.
Hakim-Peters’ attorney, Mark Gaylord, said he was surprised by the verdict. The convictions mean Hakim-Peters now faces up to 25 years in state prison at his sentencing on Aug. 12.
The minimum is eight years. He had rejected plea deals that would have given him as little as two to four years, Gaylord said.
Schettino said a lighter sentence was offered to spare the children from having to testify again about what they saw and heard that day. In all, six children testified at the trial. But Hakim-Peters was not willing to take any responsibility for what happened, Schettino noted.
The second jury got the case Friday afternoon. They asked for the video of Hakim-Peters’ interrogation to be replayed Monday morning, then came back with the verdict after lunch.
Hakim-Peters had been held at the Schenectady County Jail on $100,000 bail since days after the incident.
Following today’s verdict, acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Sise ordered Hakim-Peters back into custody pending sentencing. Gaylord had argued that Hakim-Peters‘ actions didn’t amount to the serious charges filed against him, showing the depraved indifference to human life needed for conviction.
The boy spent a week at Albany Medical Center and then five more at Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. Much of his time was spent unresponsive. He later couldn’t walk or talk like he had before, Schettino said.
One of the children told the father that the oldest, the 12-year-old, had misbehaved at school, Schettino has argued. The 12-year-old then later said he wanted to be like the other kids. That’s when, Schettino said, Hakim-Peters flew into the rage and attacked the boy.
Hakim-Peters also allegedly admitted to police that he attacked the boy, Schettino said.
A video of the police interrogation, in which Hakim-Peters said he threw the boy down twice but also tried to minimize his conduct, was played at the trial. That’s the video the jury had replayed Monday morning.
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