January 3rd, 2018 by Attorney Dan Carman
There’s no more serious a crime than taking the life of another. Depending on the circumstances, if convicted of murder a defendant may be sentenced to life in prison or receive the death penalty. It’s rare that the family of a victim publicly forgives a person pleading guilty to murder, but that was the case in Lexington, Kentucky, last month.
Trey Alexander Relford was sentenced to 31 years in prison for the murder of a Pizza Hut delivery driver in 2015, reports the Herald Leader. The 24-year-old Relford pleaded guilty to complicity to murder, complicity to robbery and attempted tampering with evidence in the death of Salahuddin Jitmoud, 22.
The prosecution claims Relford, with two other men, contacted pizza delivery restaurants and followed delivery drivers before choosing Jitmoud. Relford claims others participated in the crime, but no one else was charged. The prosecution stated that the evidence showed Relford killed Jitmoud.
The guilty plea was part of a plea bargain agreement allowing Relford to potentially seek an appeal to overturn several pretrial rulings that dealt with the admissibility of certain evidence had the case gone to trial. If a trial took place and Relford was found guilty, he could have faced the death penalty.
Abdul-Munim Sombat Jitmoud, the victim’s father and a witness in Relford’s sentencing proceedings, spoke to him directly and said, “I’m not angry at you… I’m angry at the devil.” He said, “I blame the devil, who misguided you to do such a horrible crime.” He announced he forgave him on behalf of his slain son and his mother who died before the murder.
“Forgiveness is the greatest gift of charity in Islam,” Jitmoud stated. His career has been spent working in Islamic schools, including the Lexington Universal Academy. Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell wiped away a tear and called for a break in the proceedings.
When the proceedings started again, Relford’s mother, Gail Coote Bird, testified about her son, including his drug use and directly addressed the Jitmoud family. She announced the Jitmouds had agreed to a plea deal that allowed her son to avoid a possible death sentence.
Relford told Jitmoud, “I do applaud you because it takes a powerful man to know that someone has hurt them and to get up there and say what you just said. I can’t imagine the hurt, the pain. There’s nothing I can do…I thank you for your forgiveness.”
Sombat Jitmoud stood and walked toward Relford; the two shook hands and hugged. Sobbing members of the Relford and Jitmoud families joined in a brief group hug.
Forgiveness by families of violent crime victims does happen, but it’s rare. Such an attitude can help someone convicted of the crime to piece his life back together again. The Jitmoud family sets an example for all of us who have been wronged by others.
If you’re under investigation or have been accused of a crime and have questions about how the law might apply to your situation, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Lexington, Kentucky, based Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation. Call today at (859) 838-1415 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.