Judge revisits 2009 sub shop abduction

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — Ihab Maslamani, convicted in the 2009 murder of a 21-year-old Chesterfield Township man, is back in court Tuesday for a re-sentencing hearing.

In November 2010, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

But a 2012 U.S Supreme Court ruling has put that sentence back on the table. Justices decreed that life sentences for juvenile offenders amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Maslamani was 17 when he and Robert Taylor abducted Matthew Landry outside a sandwich shop in Eastpointe. Landry was stuffed into the trunk of a car and his body was later found in a burned down Detroit house with a gunshot wound to his head.

Maslamani’s hearing began Tuesday with his attorney, Valerie Newman, detailing her client’s troubled upbringing — one that included his arrival in the U.S. as a child and almost immediate start of a string of home placements with relatives. She also claimed Maslamani and his sister were victims of abuse.

Judging Maslamani’s life without knowing the full details of his background, Newman said, would be like watching an “opera without subtitles.”

“You would understand basically what’s going on... but you’d miss a lot of the nuances and fine details of what’s going on,” she said.

Prosecutor William Cataldo jumped on Newman’s characterization.

“If this is going to be described as an opera, than it would be as a tragedy... a tragedy for the family,” he said.

Maslamani sat at the defense table showing little emotion during the early part of the hearing. Dressed in a blue prisoner’s uniform, he sported a clean-shaven head — departure from his look at previous hearings.

Judge Diane Druzinski is expected to hear testimony for the re-sentencing Tuesday and again on Thursday. Maslamani could still receive a life-without-parole sentence.

The first witness to appear Tuesday morning was the University of Michigan’s Daniel Keating, a professor of psychology, psychiatry and pediatrics. His testimony was to center on the prospects for juvenile offenders to be successfully rehabilitated.


(313) 222-2034