Court documents state Passarelli shot and killed Ayoubi after a road rage incident on the highway. He then followed Ayoubi to an apartment complex in Indianapolis.
Passarelli claimed Ayoubi threw something at his car or collided with it on the highway. After that, he followed Ayoubi to the apartment complex and Ayoubi broke one of Passarelli’s car windows with a punch.
Passarelli’s lawyers argued he was within his rights to fire at Ayoubi because it was self-defense.
According to witnesses, Passarelli and Ayoubi shouted inflammatory remarks at each other while at the apartment complex. Passarelli yelled religious and ethnic insults at Ayoubi, who was unarmed, including, “Go back to your country,” before shooting him, according to the witnesses.
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Passarelli claimed he developed PTSD during his time in the Army, but his mental evaluation and PTSD claims were ruled inadmissible in court.
He was not charged with a hate crime, but six weeks after Ayoubi’s murder, Indiana lawmakers passed a hate crimes bill that included a provision allowing judges to impose longer sentences for crimes motivated by bias.
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Passarelli could get up to 65 years in prison on the murder charge, officials said. He was also convicted of a firearm enhancement charge, which could boost his sentence by up to 20 years.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21.
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