Almost three years after slashing a Muslim taxi driver's neck, a Putnam County man pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime Tuesday.
The Aug. 24, 2010 attack by Michael Enright, a 23-year-old from Brewster, prompted outrage among New Yorkers and the Muslim community.
On Tuesday, Enright pleaded guilty to the attack in front of Acting State Supreme Court Judge Richard Carruthers in Manhattan, admitting he intended to kill Sharif. Earlier, Enright's attorney claimed the Brewster man was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from traveling to Afghanistan for a film project.
"I used a knife. I cut him in the throat," Michael Enright said in a low, halting voice when asked by a Manhattan judge to describe his crimes.
Enright, a former film student at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, was in the backseat of Ahmed Sharif's taxi when he asked the native of Bangladesh if he was a Muslim. When Sharif answered yes, Enright pulled out a knife, leaned over the front seat and slashed Sharif several times, inflicting wounds to the cabbie's neck, face and right arm. Sharif's injuries were plastered across the front pages of local newspapers later that week, when he showed them to reporters and photographers during a news conference outside City Hall.
Prosecutor James Zaleta argued that Enright deserved an 18-year prison term for the "vicious, cold-blooded attack."
"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.
At the time of the attack, tensions were high over plans for an Islamic center and mosque a few blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center.
Enright will return to court for sentencing on June 25, when Carruthers is expected to sentence him to 9 1/2 years in state prison.
"This was a horrendous crime against an innocent New Yorker," District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement Tuesday. "The victim, a native of Bangladesh and the father of four children, has been working and living in our diverse city for nearly three decades. There is no place for bigotry in New York City."
With The Associated Press