Muhuba A. Mohamed, 32, was found guilty Thursday of aggravated vehicular homicide by Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty Blunt in the June 2, 2016, crash.
The felony conviction carries a possible prison term of one to five years, but the judge has the option of placing Mohamed on probation when she sentences her on Nov. 29. The judge also could impose a lifetime driver’s license suspension.
She will remain free on bond while awaiting sentencing, although the judge ordered her to surrender her passport.
Mohamed, of the Northeast Side, is a native of Somalia. She did not testify during the trial, which she listened to with the help of a Somali interpreter.
She had waived her right to a jury and asked the judge to decide the case, which came down to a legal argument about whether her actions were reckless or negligent.
Assistant Prosecutors Daniel Cable and Daniel Lenert argued for recklessness, which was required for a felony conviction. Defense attorneys Sam Shamanksy and Donald Regensberger argued that their client was negligent and should be convicted of a misdemeanor.
Both sides agreed that Micah Ferebee was in a stroller being pushed by his father on the shoulder of Westerville Road just north of Innis Road at about 5 p.m. when Mohamed’s northbound Toyota Rav4 veered off the road and struck them from behind. The SUV also ran over a mailbox, went through three yards and eventually slammed into a house.
The father, Kenan M. Ferebee, 24, did not suffer major injuries. The baby died of head injuries shortly after being taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The evidence, which included video from a camera on the house struck, showed that Mohamed never hit the brakes or even turned the wheel to avoid the collisions after her vehicle left the roadway in broad daylight. There was no alcohol or drugs in her system.
Mr. Ferebee testified that he never saw the vehicle coming and at first didn’t realize what had hit them. When he eventually saw the driver, he said, “I tried to go after her,” but was tackled by deputies.
The only eyewitness said it appeared that the driver had a cellphone in her hand, but there were no records of her making or receiving a call at the time of the crash.
Testimony also showed that she was in a one-car crash just four days earlier, when she veered off I-71 in Delaware County and into a barrier in the median.
In both crashes, Mohamed was driving with a temporary permit but didn’t have a licensed driver with her as required by law.
“Not one of those single things amounts to recklessness,” Beatty Blunt said, “but when you look at the totality of the circumstances, the court does rule that it does amount to reckless conduct.”
As we posted earlier this morning, one of Mohamed’s fellow Somali co-religionists is representing American youth at the U.N.