Mom says Boston Marathon bombing affected son's sentencing

May 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM

JERSEY CITY, N.J., May 9 (UPI) -- The mother of a New Jersey man sentenced to 22 years in prison on terrorism charges says the Boston Marathon bombing swayed her son's sentencing.

U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise sentenced Mohamed Alessa, 23, to a 22-year prison term on April 15, about 10 minutes after the Boston Marathon bombing, The Jersey Journal, Jersey City, N.J., reported.

Alessa and co-defendant, Carlos Almonte, 27, were arrested on terror charges at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2010 as they were about to board separate flights to Egypt.

In 2011, the pair pleaded guilty to planning to join an armed extremist group in Somalia with ties to al-Qaida.

"Their aim was to murder people with beliefs not aligned with their own extremist philosophy ... They wanted to commit violence on non-believers," U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said after the guilty pleas were entered.

Alessa's mother, Nadia Alessa, 53, said she believes the bombing influenced the judge's sentencing, adding that Debevoise received a note shortly before issuing the jail time.

"It was at the same time, the same minutes," she said. "I don't think the judge had any mercy in his heart. There was no mercy. If he had mercy, not even for my son, for me ... I don't have anyone but him."

Debevoise, however, has denied Nadia Alessa's accusations, saying he "first learned of the Boston events when someone mentioned them to me when I was about to re-enter the courtroom to impose a final sentence. They had nothing to do with the sentence I imposed."

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