NEW YORK: A college student will serve nearly a decade behind bars after pleading guilty Tuesday to charges he attacked a New York City taxi driver from Bangladesh during an anti-Muslim tirade.
“I used a knife. I cut him in the throat,” Michael Enright told the judge.
Prosecutor James Zaleta argued that Enright deserved an 18-year prison term for a “vicious, cold-blooded attack” in 2010 as the Sept. 11 attacks anniversary neared.
“After insulting the tenets of Islam and mocking the restrictions of Ramadan, the defendant, unprovoked, reached through the cab partition and sliced the victim across his neck,” Zaleta said.
The judge agreed that the charges — attempted murder and assault as hate crimes — were serious but said Enright had no previous criminal record and because the victim wasn’t badly hurt. Enright will serve 9 1/2 years in prison.
Authorities say the 24-year-old asked cab driver Ahmed Sharif whether he was Muslim, uttered an Arabic greeting and told him to “consider this a checkpoint” before slashing him.
Enright initially told police that Sharif tried to rob him and he’d defended himself, prosecutors said. The film student later told police he was “a patriot,” according to prosecutors.
A lawyer for Enright has said he was beset by alcoholism and by post-traumatic stress disorder from a 2009 trip to Afghanistan, where he was shooting a documentary.
“There is no place for bigotry in New York City,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement Tuesday.