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What you need to know for 10/16/2017

Man sentenced in fatal Rotterdam hit-and-run

Man sentenced in fatal Rotterdam hit-and-run

Schenectady father killed while walking
Man sentenced in fatal Rotterdam hit-and-run
Inshan Ali, 47, was killed here along Hamburg Street, 100 feet north of Schermerhorn Street in Rotterdam.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

Nazeema Ali recalled her brother Inshan Ali as man who loved his children, his prides and joy.

She also remembered how he died: struck and killed while walking on Hamburg Street in Rotterdam last May, with the driver who struck him fleeing without calling police or paramedics.

Ravi_A._Sookram.jpg

She spoke Thursday at the sentencing of the man who struck her brother, 28-year-old Ravi Sookram. Sookram admitted earlier to leaving the scene of the fatal crash without alerting authorities, as well as tampering with evidence. He received a sentence of 2 to 6 years in prison.

Nazeema Ali told the court that she now knows that evil truly does exist, according to her written statement read in court.

"I am so baffled in the way in which my brother was left to die in his final moments on earth, it's inhumane," she said. "He honestly did not deserve that.

"At this moment in my life, I lost all faith in humanity. Restoring my faith is seeking justice for my brother, Inshan Ali."

Judge Matthew Sypniewski heard from both sides in the case, including Sookram. The defendant expressed remorse in his own statement, as he has all along, his attorney said.

Sypniewski imposed the 2-to-6-year sentence, having the option to sentence Sookram to up to 3 years, 8 months to 11 years. Ali's sister asked for the maximum. Sookram's attorney Lee Greenstein asked for no jail time.

Prosecutor Nicolaus Brooks-McDonald later credited the work of Rotterdam police, including Det. Claude Sawyer. Police used paint chips left at the scene to confirm the type of vehicle and searched for a similar SUV. The big break came when investigators discovered an accident report from earlier in the day involving the same SUV, but a different driver. Sookram and the SUV were from New York City and the vehicle wouldn't have shown up in a standard regional search.

Brooks-McDonald said later that Sookram only turned himself in after police arrived at his doorstep. He came in with his lawyer the next day. The prosecutor said he noted in court that any remorse wasn't shown during the month it took police to track him down.

Sookram offered his apologies in court, the attorney said. Sookram panicked and made a mistake, Greenstein said. Sookroom wasn't drinking that night, his attorney said.

"Our sympathies go out to the family of Mr. Ali," Greenstein said. "But my client, who has no criminal record, did not deserve jail. The accident was not his fault and his departure did not cause Mr. Ali's death."

Prosecutors said evidence indicated Ali died instantly.

Sookram will appeal his sentence, Greenstein said. Defendants usually give up that right in plea deals, but Sookram took the unusual step of pleading guilty without a plea deal.

Ali, 47, of Schenectady, was the father of two children. He and Sookram were in the area that night attending separate parties. Sookram struck Ali and initially stopped, got out and walked over to Ali. Others who were with Sookram also left. Neighbors called 911. 

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