Over in Titusville, Florida, a 35 year old man named Michael Wolfe thought that a swell way to spend New Year’s Eve would be to break into a mosque and vandalise it with a machete and then leave a slab of bacon on the floor.
Whilst we don’t doubt that he probably had an absolute blast, it’s not looking so good for him now as he’s facing life imprisonment for his actions after he was picked up shortly afterwards thanks to CCTV footage at the mosque. It showed him getting into his car after he had smashed up the place with his machete. He was wearing a backpack and some camo pants – unfortunately they don’t seem to have done him much good in this instance.
The reason that Wolfe now faces a life sentence is that both crimes of armed burglary and criminal mischief have been upgraded to include a hate crime enhancement. State Attorney Phil Archer explains:
Our charging decisions confirm how seriously we take crimes of this nature.
When further investigation shows a crime is clearly hate motivated, it will not be tolerated.
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Of course, any sentence will still depend upon a number of things, including Wolfe’s prior criminal record (apparently pretty long, no surprises), the leniency of the judge and whether or not a plea deal can be reached. Nevertheless, Imam Muhammad Mursi – who oversees a network of mosques in Florida (why would a Muslim want to live in Florida? Seriously?) – is happy with the way the state attorney has chosen to prosecute the crime:
We have been hoping for that to happen. It was clearly a hate crime.
Obviously, we were lucky that no one was there that night. He had a a machete, someone could have been killed.
Right now we are trying to recover and reassure people – people from the Titusville mosque have been fearful to return since the incident.
I don’t really know what to think about this. Obviously it’s completely not cool to smash up a mosque with a machete and leave some bacon there, but it seems overtly harsh to sentence someone to life in prison for such an offence, especially when paedophiles and murderers often get lesser sentences. I don’t really understand how the justice system works though in terms of the length of sentence vs the harshness of the crime. We’ll have to see how this one pans out.
In the meantime, check out this list of the world’s youngest killers and their respective sentences to figure out if this one is fair or not.