Man gets 4-year term in robbery of cabdriver

May 04, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Columbia man accused of stabbing a taxi driver 22 times during a holdup while under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol last summer was sentenced to four years in prison yesterday.

Shawn Chinn, 24, of the 7000 block of Cradlerock Way in the Owen Brown village was given the sentence in Howard Circuit Court as part of a plea agreement he accepted in March for an armed robbery charge.

Chinn was accused of stabbing and robbing Gholamreza Asliyalfani of Savage during a struggle in Mr. Asliyalfani's taxi while it was parked in Columbia's Long Reach village Aug. 21.

Mr. Asliyalfani, who worked for Columbia Cab Co., has recovered from his injuries. He suffered wounds to his upper torso and arms.

Chinn apologized to the victim, saying, "I pray that he will forgive me for what I've done."

Judge Dennis M. Sweeney sentenced Chinn to 10 years in prison, but suspended all but four years of the term. Chinn must complete three years of probation and counseling upon his release. Under state guidelines, he will be eligible for parole in about a year.

Judge Sweeney said the case highlights the court's dilemma in weighing the appropriate punishment of first-time defendants against the potentially detrimental effects of prison.

"These are the hardest cases for this court," Judge Sweeney said.

The judge, saying he cast the sentence with "concern and

regret," explained that he was swayed to send Chinn to prison by the police report showing the brutality of Chinn's actions.

Judge Sweeney issued the sentence after Chinn's attorney and prosecutor debated whether a first-time offender should be sent to prison.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha argued that Chinn must be punished for his "outrageous conduct."

He noted that the robbery and stabbing left Mr. Asliyalfani with out a job, money and insurance to pay his medical bills. The victim also feels numbness on the left side of his body that may be permanent.

"His whole life got thrown into a chaotic upheaval," Mr. Murtha said. "He didn't know if he wanted to live any more."

The prosecutor said a prison term for Chinn does not mean he will turn into a tough, career criminal. He said prison could show Chinn what will happen to him if he gets into trouble again.

But Assistant Public Defender Sam Truette argued that prison would "callous" Chinn and disrupt his promising life.

Mr. Truette noted that Chinn was a good high school student, served four years in the Army and worked for his father's $H company before the incident.

Mr. Truette suggested that Chinn should be given a lengthy probation, noting that he has been jailed at the county Detention Center since his arrest in August.

"I would be shocked to see him back here," Mr. Truette said. "He values his life. He's very proud of his life."

The defense attorney said the robbery would not have happened if not for Chinn's use of drugs and alcohol. Chinn started using the substances after he was discharged from the Army about 15 months before the incident, the attorney said.

The day of the incident, Chinn called for a taxi at the Owen Brown Village Center shortly after 6 a.m. Mr. Asliyalfani arrived to pick him up, and Chinn told him to drive him to Long Reach.

As the cab neared Tamar Drive at Silver Trumpet Drive, Chinn pulled out a military-style knife with a 12-inch blade and demanded money.

When Mr. Asliyalfani hesitated, he was stabbed from behind and then dragged into the back seat, where the attack continued, police said. Chinn took about $175 from the driver.

Witnesses told police that they saw Chinn flee from the taxi and run into some woods. Police searched the area and found Chinn walking in a nearby stream bed shortly after the robbery.

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