Charges against Milain Fayulu and Anthony Abdelnour, two members of EI who are facing trial for the assault of another student, were reduced on April 29 from aggravated assault while armed to simple assault.
An order banning the defendants from harassing, assaulting, threatening or stalking the victim remains in effect, Judge Michael McCarthy said.
Abdelnour, Fayulu and Miguel Lama, who is not a member of EI, allegedly attacked an AU student on New Mexico Ave, The Eagle previously reported. Lama was not present at the hearing that lessened the charges and has his own preliminary hearing scheduled for next month.
“Judge McCarthy, who only listened to the government’s evidence today, used his common sense and experience to conclude that this was much ado about nothing,” Fayulu’s lawyer, Robert Feitel, said.
The original charges defined the defendants as “armed” because of the car they drove at the beginning of the incident, which almost hit the victim. The charges were reduced in part because of a typo in an affidavit from the prosecutor that made it unclear whether Fayulu and Abdelnour actually used the vehicle in the alleged assault.
At the hearing, Feitel and Pamela Satterfield, Abdelnour’s attorney, discussed the extent of the victim’s injuries, questioning whether they warranted an aggravated assault charge.
Metropolitan Police Department detective Ucraina Paniagua said she did not obtain the victim’s medical records after the incident, a fact that McCarthy specifically cited when explaining why he chose to reduce the charges.
“I’ve been convinced that the burden hasn’t been met [for aggravated assault],” he said.
The changed charges mean Fayulu and Abdelnour face drastically different penalties, if convicted of the crime.
With the new simple assault charges, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a $12,500 fine or both, according to the D.C. official code. Aggravated assault carries a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine, 10 years in prison or both.
Until the hearing, Fayulu and Abdelnour were required to meet with pretrial supervisors once per week. Feitel and Satterfield requested that their clients instead check in with the court twice weekly by phone because of the ending of the school year.
The question of the two defendants’ other travel privileges, however, is unclear. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Sroka requested that the defendants notify the court before traveling abroad, and McCarthy said that travel privileges would be decided at the next hearing, before a grand jury.
The AU disciplinary meeting for Fayulu, Lama and Abdelnour took place on April 24. While the results of the hearing are not public, both Feitel and Satterfield indicated that they had not yet received an official decision from AU and the two seniors might not graduate.
Abdelnour, who until recently had a job lined up in Atlanta, may be looking for a new school in Europe, according to Satterfield.
Fayulu was also planning to start a career after school.
“My client had a job lined up,” Feitel said. “He’s trying to do something to salvage the situation.”