Beacon Hill attackers learn their fate

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by KYLE MOORE / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 5:45 PM

SEATTLE - For more than a year, one question has lingered in Dawit Alemu's mind.

"Why?" he says from the sofa of his families Beacon Hill apartment.

The victim spent months in a coma and nearly lost his sight. But some of his lingering questions may never be answered.

Last summer, the 26-year-old was brutally attacked outside his families home. The attack put Alemu in a coma for several months and almost caused one of his eyes to go blind.

"I am just mad they attacked me. I don't know why they attacked me. For what ?" asked Alemu.

The June 18, 2009 attack occurred just one day before Alemu was set to graduate from Seattle Central Community College. Alemu dreamed of heading to the University of Washington to complete his education. The attack has kept Alemu from his full-time security job and does not allow the son to take care of his deaf mother.

As a child, Alemu moved from Ethiopia where his family saw much hardship. He never thought he would be attacked in America outside his home.

In a sentencing hearing for two of the attackers, King County Deputy Prosecuting attorney Steven Kim compared Alemu's brain injuries to those of "Shaken Baby Syndrome." According to Kim, "he was in a coma, he was blind for a period of time and doctors were concerned he would never see again."

A witness took a photo of the attack which led to the arrest of three men. Police took into custody Justin Phillips, Jaynus Speed and Kenneth Fisher. A fourth man has not been arrested or charged.

Speed and Fisher appeared before a judge after they plead guilty to second-degree assault and first-degree attempted robbery.

Fisher's attorney, Ann Mahony, told a judge that Fisher was celebrating his 19th birthday and was "very drunk" and suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Mahony says the alcohol and brain injury led to the attack and Fisher is "not an irredeemable thug who is out... preying on individuals."

Fisher's father told a judge his son was "on the right track" and "nothing like this ever happened before."

"He is not a bad person," said Fisher's sister who was fighting back tears. "Before this, he has never been in any kind of trouble."

"The greatest sadness is reserved for Mr. Alemu for what he has gone through," said Speed's attorney Julie Gaisford.

Neither Speed nor Fisher spoke in court when given the opportunity.

Judge Laura Gene Middaugh called the crime "egregious" and said "Mr. Alemu, I wish I could tell you why this happen but I can't. That is why these cases are so frustrating."

Judge Middaugh sentenced Speed to three years in prison and Fisher to more than two and a half years behind bars.

Alemu didn't get his apology. Now he plans to move forward.

"I am just glad I recovered, I am not blind... I just want to go back to regular good things."

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