Dad calls Detroit killers of French artist ‘assassins’
Detroit — Calling his son’s killer’s “assassins” the father of a French street artist murdered in Detroit says his family will never forgive them.
“You do not know us and we do not know you. What do we care if you spend, 20, 50, or 100 years in prison?” Mourad Berreni said Wednesday in his victim impact statement.
“You, the assassins, we will never forgive you for having taken, without reason, the life of the flesh or our flesh, our young son and brother, who as an innocent and generous being.”
Berreni’s statement was read in court by Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Brian Morrow during the sentencing of a 15-year-old, the youngest and last of four defendants convicted in the robbery and murder of Bilal Berreni, 23 in July 2013.
Berreni said his son’s murder “haunts us each day of our lives and in our devastated hearts, the taste of life has lost all flavor,” adding “he was a unique young boy, full of life, talent, and love for all those who crossed his path and who wanted to help as soon as he could.”
The teen was sentenced by Wayne Circuit Judge Christopher Dingell to four to six years in a juvenile facility. But if he misbehaves, he could find himself facing 33-65 years as an adult under a blended sentence if he doesn’t “walk the line.”
He was also given 11-18 years as part of the delayed blended sentence for Berreni’s robbery. That will run concurrently with the teen’s longer sentence if he ends up being sentenced as an adult.
The teen, who was 13 at the time of Berreni’s murder, will serve time in a juvenile correction facility until he is 19, and his detainment could be extended until he is 21.
Berreni’s mother, Martine Sarlandie, wrote: “During the night you have nightmares because you could not protect him and because he died far away from us, without having been able to tell him one last time that you loved him.”
She described her son as a “sweet and courageous boy, who thought that drawing was a universal language that could erase borders.”
In doling out his punishment, Dingell noted the crime the teen was involved with was “as serious as you get” and described the horrific details of Berreni’s death: The street artist had the large bones in his body broken, lacerations to his organs and a gunshot wound to the face, which he initially survived after he was attacked.
“This is a terrible way to die,” Dingell said. “There is something almost medieval about doing something like that to somebody.”
The teen’s attorney, Jeffrey Schwartz, asked for him to be sentenced solely as a juvenile saying his client was “clearly not the leader, the planner or instigated” the robbery and murder. He also said the teen has some “emotional issues.”
A female relative of the teen apologized to the victim’s family saying “we are deeply sorry” for Berreni’s murder and that they believe the teen is paying a reasonable sentence for it.
The Detroit News does not normally name teens being tried in juvenile court.
Three others have been convicted and sentenced in the murder of Berreni, whose body was found on a sidewalk of the now demolished Brewster-Douglass housing projects. He had no identification at the time his body was found by a construction crew. He was identified in March 2014 through fingerprints.
Prosecutors have said the killers saw Berreni near basketball courts and decided to rob him. Police said the perpetrators took Berreni’s money, which he had hidden inside his shoes, his wallet and Bridge card.
They stole about $300. Some of the money was used to buy marijuana and junk food, according to the prosecution.
The alleged trigger man, Dionte Travis, was sentenced in January to 30-60 years in prison.
Drequone Rich, 21, is serving 23-40 years after pleading guilty in September to being the lookout man. Jasin Curtis, 19, received 25-40 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.