BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – On their second day of deliberations, a jury found two teenagers guilty in the robbery and shooting death of a cab driver. Sean Austin and Maurice Howie were found guilty in the death of 55-year-old Mazen Abdallah last March.
Abdallah was well-loved by his fellow cabbies, who were distraught to learn their co-worker had been shot twice in the head after picking up two men at the Perry Projects in Buffalo last March. His cab was later found on Norfolk with his body inside it.
Fayez Abdallah, Mazen’s brother, said “This gives us some closure and makes it a little easier for us now. We lost a brother and people at Airport Taxi lost a loving friend.”
Austin and Howie have been on trial for the last month. The jury looked at eerie and disturbing video during the trial, that showed two men in dark clothing get into a cab and then a second video of the cab being moved after the murder was committed.
“These are dangerous thugs,” said Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita. “These are people who are sticking guns in people’s faces and robbing them. And these are people that worked up to sticking gun in people’s faces and killing them.”
Prosecutors said the teens had robbery on their minds and murder a trigger pull away, but attorneys for the defendants argued the evidence was circumstantial. Evidence presented during the trial showed DNA belonging to Howie, a star quarterback at South Park High School, was found inside the cab on bloody clothing, as was DNA belonging to Austin.
Police say the teens were part of a group that terrorized local cab drivers. Two other suspects are charged with robbery in other crimes and will stand trial in April.
Austin was found guilty of five previous robberies and the robbery and murder of Abdallah. The maximum sentence for Austin could be 100 years to life, because sentences run consecutively. Howie was found guilty of two robberies, including one previous robbery and the robbery and murder of the cab driver. Howie’s sentence could be 50 years to life. They will learn their sentences on May 15th.
Abdallah’s family is grateful to law enforcement agencies for solving the case.
Abdallah said, “The ultimate judgement will be at the end. God will judge everybody. Maybe families will wake up in this country and take care of their kids better.”