After speaking on the record for the first time, the Chelsea Bomber received two life sentences, plus 30 years, all to be served consecutively, for the September 2016 bombing he carried out. Also speaking in court on Tuesday was one of the 30 people injured in the attack which, by many accounts, could have been much worse.
Ahmad Khan Rahimi’s sentence is consistent with federal sentencing guidelines, and was imposed by Judge Richard Berman after a three-hour hearing.
The judge cited surveillance videos taken at the 23rd Street location where Rahimi had left a suitcase bomb on the sidewalk on the night of Sep. 17, 2016. The videos clearly show Rahimi and the suitcase, in which he’d placed a pressure cooker bomb. The bomb then explodes, as various cameras recorded the impact.
In imposing the sentence on eight different felony counts, Judge Berman said that federal guidelines recommended the following penalties: for six weapons and bombing counts, a life sentence was advised; for one count of using a destructive device, 30 years were recommended by the guidelines; for another count of using a destructive device, the guidelines recommended another life sentence, all to be served consecutively.
“We intend to appeal,” Rahimi’s attorney, Xavier Donaldson, said outside of the courthouse here, after the hearing.
Donaldson did not represent Rahimi at trial. He was appointed by the judge after the trial attorneys said that evidence that indicated that Rahimi was inciting jihad while behind bars represented a conflict of interest.
Donaldson told PIX11 News on Tuesday that there were “issues at trial” that he felt were grounds for an appeal. He did not specify what those issues were.
After issuing his sentence, Judge Berman asked if any of the victims had wanted to speak in court. One of about a half dozen victims present in the gallery said that she wanted to say something.
“I got to look him in the eye,” Pauline Nelson said after the hearing.
At the very end of the three-hour sentencing, she’d looked at Rahimi and spoke to him directly.
“You have no remorse,” she said before a silent courtroom. “God forgive you.”
Her comments were in response to the 13- minute statement Rahimi made before the judge, in which the Pakistani immigrant blamed the FBI and other law enforcement for radicalizing him.
“I was never discriminated [against] by my religion, until I started following my religion," Rahimi said, adding that FBI and customs agents had interviewed him for a half hour upon his return from a trip to the Dominican Republic a few years ago.
Rahimi had also exploded a device in Seaside Park, New Jersey, the day before the Chelsea bombing, and six pipe bombs he’d built were found in Elizabeth, New Jersey the day after.
Rahimi is also charged with shooting and injuring two police officers in New Jersey, when they’d apprehended him the day after the Chelsea bombings. His court case in New Jersey is still pending.