Fort Worth teen gets 23 years for killing 5-year-old boy

Posted Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Five-year-old Sida Osman only wanted the teen to go with him to the store.

But the 13-year-old neighbor said the boy was pestering him, and he became angry.

They were in the back yard of a vacant house, and the teen, unable to control his rage, threw a 14-pound bowling ball at Sida’s head, sending him falling to the ground.

The teen picked up the bowling ball and, straddling the injured boy, he threw it down again onto Sida’s head — like a “football player spiking a football.”

When he showed Sida’s body to three friends, they wanted to call an ambulance, but he said “no.” When Sida’s mother asked the teen whether he’d seen her missing son, he said nothing.

On Wednesday morning in juvenile court, the tearful teen pleaded guilty to capital murder in his young neighbor’s death in exchange for up to 23 years behind bars.

As a courtroom of spectators looked on, the youth, who is now 14 and is not being named because he is a juvenile, turned to the gallery and finally spoke to the victim’s family: “I just want the family to know I’m sorry.”

It was an emotional end to the tragic death of a cherished child in the Somali refugee community — families that resettled in an east Fort Worth apartment complex, seeking sanctuary from their war-torn country.

“There were tears all over that courtroom,” said Assistant District Attorney Riley Shaw, who handled the case with prosecutor Brock Groom. “They were real tears from real people. This is a horrific, horrific case.”

A last-minute deal

Wednesday’s plea agreement came as potential jurors waited at the courthouse to begin jury selection.

Though the teen could have faced up to 40 years behind bars, Shaw said the plea agreement was reached to spare Sida’s family from having to relive his death.

The teen will initially be sentenced to a juvenile facility but could be transferred, with the court’s approval, to an adult prison after his 16th birthday.

The teen is small in stature and baby-faced, so his chances in adult prison are simply not good, said his attorney, Brian Willett.

“Everyone knows what happens, and the stories are true,” Willett said. “He’s a small little boy.”

Willett and fellow defense attorney Ray Hall Jr. say the teen has battled mental illness and grew up without a father figure after his dad’s incarceration. They said his mother has tried to get him help, admitting him to a mental health facility several times.

“They keep him a week and then let him back out,” Hall said. “She feels like she’s made an effort to get him help but it kind of falls on deaf ears.”

Painful testimony

During the hearing before state District Judge Jean Boyd, relatives of both the teen and Sida cried as Shaw read testimony into evidence, revealing gruesome details not previously released to the public.

Testimony included the statements of two older teens who were shown Sida’s body and of the homicide detective to whom the teen would confess.

According to testimony, the older teens saw the 13-year-old crying and asked what was wrong, and he told them that he’d killed a boy. He showed them Sida’s body and tried to hide the bowling ball by throwing it into the back yard of a residence across the street.

The older teens did not initially report the homicide to police.

Family, friends and later police searched throughout the night of June 25 and the next day for the missing 5-year-old before a concerned citizen found the body in the fenced back yard of a vacant home in the 4800 block of Lois Street.

The 13-year-old agreed to talk to investigators after police learned of his alleged confession to friends.

With his mother present for the interview, he acted out how he struck Sida twice in the head with the bowling ball, then left the boy convulsing on the ground.

He told the detectives that he killed the boy “because Sida kept bothering and pestering him to go to the store.”

An autopsy determined that Sida died from blunt-force injuries to the head and that, even if an ambulance had been summoned, his injuries were not believed to be survivable.

‘They are very strong’

Sida lived with his family in the Webber Garden apartment complex in east Fort Worth, home to dozens of Somali Bantus who fled their war-torn country to settle in the United States. Sida’s death shocked the refugee community, leaving many to wonder whether Fort Worth is indeed a safe place to live.

With the help of a translator, Sida’s mother, Dahabo Abdi, delivered a victim impact statement during Wednesday’s hearing, telling the teen that she would like to see the boy spend his life in prison for what he’s done.

The mother said she remembered seeing the 13-year-old as she searched for her son and asking him whether he’d seen Sida. She said the teen said nothing and was told to keep quiet by an unidentified woman with him.

“We were looking the whole day and the whole night,” Abdi said. “He knew we were looking for him, and he didn’t participate. … Why did he kill him? He’s only 5 years old. He was innocent.”

Abdi said Sida’s little brother, too young to understand that Sida is dead, often asks, “Where is my brother? Where did he go?”

Pregnant at the time of the slaying, Abdi said she named her newborn Sida.

Shaw said Sida’s family has moved from the Webber Garden apartment complex.

“This is one of the most heartbreaking cases I’ve ever been involved in,” Shaw said. “I can think of nothing more horrific for the family of that young boy, to have something like that happen to your 5-year-old.

“… They are very strong,” he said. “They are very close. They’re going to get through this.”

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655 Twitter: @deannaboyd Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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