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Seattle: New Years Eve arsonist pleads guilty but will not face hate crime charges

Musab Mohamed Masmari

The man who tried to kill a crowd of 750 people packed inside a popular Seattle gay bar by setting it afire on New Year’s Eve has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of arson.

Despite some evidence that he was motivated by hatred of LGBT people, Musab Mohammad Masmari will not face federal hate crime charges.

The Seattle Times reports that Masmari, a 30-year-old American-born man of Libyan extraction and upbringing, reached an agreement with prosecutors on Friday to plead guilty to arson. Though prosecutors had substantial reason to believe it was an anti-LGBT bias crime, he will not face federal hate-crime charges. Prosecutors said that Masmari’s motives will be addressed by the judge during the sentencing phase, which comes next week.

The plea agreement specifies that prosecutors will only seek a five-year prison sentence for the crime. However, prosecutors told KOMO-TV that the judge was free to ignore their recommendations and sentence Masmari to a prison term ranging up to 20 years.

(from Southern Poverty Law Center)

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