Teen charged in zoo stabbing pleads guilty
The 16-year-old charged in connection with a stabbing at the National Zoo in April has been ordered to undergo counseling before he will be sentenced.
Mshairi Alkebular, 16, who is being charged as an adult, has pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon and carrying a dangerous weapon.
The April 25 stabbing inside and outside the zoo in the 3000 block of Connecticut Avenue Northwest left a 14-year-old wounded.
Alkebular accepts responsibility, his attorney said. “He is just sixteen. And I'm a father, I have a son. And that compels me to try and act in his best interest aside from the legal obligation as his counsel,” the teen’s attorney, James Rudasill, said.
The skirmish broke out inside the zoo, which filled with around 25,000 people for African-American family day. Authorities said a group led by Alkebular beat the victim, then the defendant stabbed him twice in the arm.
When the victim was leaving the zoo, he was again attacked by Alkebular, who stabbed the victim four times in the torso. The second attack made it tough for Alkebular to plead self-defense, his attorney said.
“There was a break in the fight and then a retaliation. It was the retaliation component that forced the plea,” said Rudasill.
The teens knew each other from their Southeast neighborhood, according to the attorney. Kevin Price, a mentor with the future leaders program, says the attacks are indicative of a broader problem. He argues that in the short term, better security is needed. Long term, he says children need to be steered away from violence while they’re young and everyone deserves a second chance.
“Everyone deserves a chance. That's just how life is. You mess up one time, you gotta learn from your mistakes,” Price said.
The judge ordered Alkebular to receive counseling. Authorities will evaluate him afterwards, before he will he receive his sentence. That means if Alkebular shows improvement, his sentence could be reduced to probation.