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Columbia teenager who 'preyed on elderly' sentenced to 10 years in jail

Columbia teenager who 'preyed on elderly' sentenced to 10 years in jail
Zayah Abdul Alhassan, 19, was charged with multiple counts of robbery, theft and second-degree assault by the Howard County Police Department. (Courtesy photo / Howard County Police Department)

A Columbia teenager who “preyed on the elderly,” said a Howard County judge, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, county prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Zayah Abdul Hassan, 19, pleaded guilty to one count of theft scheme — $100 to under $1,500 — and one count of robbery on Dec. 4 after being charged with a string of robberies targeting elderly women in May.

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Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt suspended all but 18 months of Alhassan’s sentence Tuesday. He also placed Alhassan on three years of supervised probation and ordered him to pay $493 restitution to one of the victims and $145 in court fees.

Two elderly women had their purses stolen in east Columbia on May 14 and May 22 and a third woman, who was riding on a mobility scooter, had her purse stolen May 30, Howard County police previously reported.

Alhassan was identified by police with surveillance video and an investigation by neighborhood community resource officers.

He was also facing burglary charges in a May 10 burglary at a Columbia home.

As part of a plea agreement, Alhassan’s charges in the burglary were dropped but he can’t have contact with any of the victims in both cases after his release. Alhassan’s attorney, Beverly Graham, did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.

Although he has no prior adult convictions, Alhassan does have a juvenile record, Danielle Duclaux, an assistant state’s attorney said in court Tuesday.

Alhassan was previously charged with armed robbery and second-degree assault in September 2015. Initially tried as an adult despite his age, Alhassan was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 21, 2015, before his case was sent to juvenile court, where information is confidential, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office previously said.

Unrelated to Tuesday’s sentencing, Alhassan will be tried in January for a second-degree assault charge involving another inmate at Howard County Detention Center, prosecutors said. Alhassan has no attorney listed for that case, according to online court records.

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