Dustin Passarelli, an Army veteran from Indianapolis, was sentenced Wednesday to 55 years in prison after being convicted for the road rage shooting death of a Muslim man.
According to The Associated Press, Passarelli was convicted in May for murder and a felony firearm enhancement involving the death of Mustafa Ayoubi, a 32-year-old Muslim man, in February of 2019. Witnesses claimed Passarelli used religious and ethnic insults against the victim prior to the shooting incident.
While Passarelli allegedly used “hate speech” and told Ayoubi to “go back to your country,” he was not charged with a hate crime. The Associated Press reported that six weeks after Ayoubi was killed by Passarelli, Indiana lawmakers passed a bill against hate crimes, allowing judges to increase the length of sentences for crimes motivated by bias. Prior to the incident with Passarelli and Ayoubi, Indiana was one of five states that had not passed legislation involving a hate crime law.
Passarelli reportedly followed Ayoubi off Interstate 465 and engaged in a verbal altercation involving ethnic insults and hate speech outside an apartment complex before Passarelli fatally shot Ayoubi.
Defense attorneys argued that Passarelli acted in self-defense by firing at Ayoubi after Ayoubi allegedly threw something at Passarelli’s car or collided with his vehicle on the highway and later punched through Passarelli’s car window during the altercation near the apartment complex.
Following Passarelli’s conviction last month, Fox News shared that Mustafa Ayoubi’s sister Zahra Ayoubi said the conviction of her brother’s murderer finally allowed the family to “celebrate” the life of Mustafa Ayoubi after justice was finally served.
“I wish this never happened,” she said. “The true justice would be if we were all still together right now. However, he died. And he left a legacy.”