Sudanese refugee sentenced in Utah highway shooting
West Valley City • Shooter was upset with man for “snitching,” witnesses said.
Published: May 1, 2012 02:17PM
Updated: May 1, 2012 11:45PM

A Sudanese refugee who shot and killed a fellow refugee on a Utah highway last year has been sentenced to up to life in prison.

Akol Joker was driving in a car on State Road 201 in West Valley City in January 2011 when he became upset with Mohammed Hassan, demanded a handgun from another passenger and fired. According to testimony, Joker was angry with Hassan and accused him of “snitching.”

Joker demanded the handgun that Idrees Adam Idrees, 22, had been carrying in his waistband, witnesses have testified in court. Idrees gave his friend the weapon. Joker pulled Hassan forward by the shirt and shot him in the head, according to testimony.

Joker, 21, pleaded guilty to the murder charge earlier this year. But later, the man filed a motion to withdraw his plea, claiming his lawyers never provided him with discovery in the case to “come up with a strategy for my defense.”

“I just please want another chance to fight for my life and what is right for me,” Joker wrote to the judge.

Joker eventually gave up on his efforts to have the plea withdrawn.

Last week, 3rd District Judge Todd Shaugnessy sentenced Joker to 15 years to life in prison for the murder.

Idrees was convicted by a jury in January of murder and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person. He was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison on the weapons charge and 15 years to life in prison on the murder charge.

afalk@sltrib.com