An Allegheny County jury Thursday found an Arlington Heights man guilty of second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to rob in the beating death nearly three years ago of a Somali cab driver.
Daniel Russell, 22, was one of four people charged with killing Ramadhan Mohamed, 31, a zTrip driver from Somalia, in February 2017. Police said that Mr. Russell and his friends robbed Mr. Mohamed in Beltzhoover and then beat him so severely that he died three days later.
Two of Mr. Russell’s co-defendants testified against him in the trial, which began Nov. 12 before Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman. The jury got the case Wednesday.
Mr. Russell was charged along with Christen Glenn, King Edwards and Hosea Moore. The latter two co-defendants testified against Mr. Russell.
According to investigators, Mr. Russell called for a cab Feb. 21, 2017, and Mr. Mohamed, driving for zTrip, arrived at Climax Street in Beltzhoover about 2 a.m.
The group got him out of the car and punched him repeatedly before checking his pockets to rob him. The co-defendants said the attack had stopped, and Mr. Mohamed was sitting in the grass, asking them not to hit him anymore.
That’s when, they said, Mr. Russell attacked Mr. Mohamed again — kicking him repeatedly in the head. They said the victim was lying on the ground, unconscious. He died three days later from severe head trauma.
Defense attorney T. Brent McCune said the verdict was logical.
“It was a robbery, and the evidence was pretty clear on that.”
Under Pennsylvania law, if a person is killed during the commission of a felony such as robbery it is second-degree murder, which carries a penalty of life in prison without parole.
Mr. Russell will be sentenced on Feb. 18.
Nuru Pembeni, Mr. Mohamed’s brother who lives in Milwaukee, attended much of the trial with his nephew and Mr. Mohamed’s brother-in-law.
Even with the verdict, he and his family still can’t understand why his brother was killed.
“Until today, we still are wondering how this happened to him,” he said. “We’re still kind of shocked.”
The men said that they are from Somalia, but also spent several years in Kenya trying to get permission to come to the United States to build a better life and be able to support their families still in Africa.
“We worked so hard to come here for peace,” Mr. Pembeni said. “It looks like we’re still not getting peace. We were seeing the same thing here in the U.S.A. as we were there. That kind of hurts.”
Mr. Mohamed has one child still in Africa and another in the U.S. After coming to the United States, he lived in New York for a period and returned to Pittsburgh just months before he was killed.
He spent weekends as a private teacher for children in the Muslim community, his nephew, Hassani Mugoya said.
“He was a man who loved everybody,” Mr. Pembeni said. “He was a hard-working man.”