NEW HAVEN — In emotional appeals, Ibrahim Ghazal’s family urged the judge to hand out the maximum sentence possible to career criminal Frankie Resto for the 2012 killing of the 70-year-old Meriden convenience store owner. Resto was sentenced to 53 years in prison on Friday.
Resto, 38, pleaded guilty to murder and first-degree robbery in November after a jury had been selected.
“Please, I beg you, don’t let this killer ever again see the light of day,” said Fapyo Ghazal, Ibrahim Ghazal’s son to Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford.
Prosecutor Kevin Doyle described Ghazal’s murder as “cold blooded and senseless,” and “cruel and horrific,” saying that no sentence could heal the family. Doyle added that Resto will serve “every day of the 53 years.”
Doyle described the night of June 27, 2012, saying Ghazal did everything he could to comply with the armed robber and protect a friend who was in the East Main Street store.
“He was the type of person to help anyone,” Doyle said about Ghazal. “I can’t think of a more cowardly act than to shoot a 70-year-old unarmed man.”
Police said Resto, a Meriden resident, entered the store, ordered a customer to the ground at gunpoint and demanded money from Ghazal. After Ghazal turned over the cash, Resto shot him in the chest and fled.
Doyle said there was no question Resto was the one to murder Ghazal, and store video shows Resto ordering the customer on the ground and demanding money. In the moments after Resto shot Ghazal, he fled the store and got rid of the gun and some of his clothes. The gun was never found.
Resto pleaded under the Alford Doctrine, meaning he did not admit to the crime but agrees that the state has enough evidence for a conviction.
In addition to the 53 years in prison for the murder charge, Resto also received 20 years for the first-degree robbery charge. The sentences will run concurrently.
Mervat Ghazal read a prepared statement from her mother, Sudqieh Ghazal, Ibrahim Ghazal’s wife. Marvet Ghazal said she wanted to tell her father that she loves him and he is missed.
At one point Marvet Ghazal apologized for stumbling over some of the words, but said she was proud of her accent. Sudqieh Ghazal’s statement chronicled the family’s journey to America from Jordan because of Ibrahim Ghazal’s passion a life in America. Marvet said she wished her father never came to America.
Sudqieh Ghazal was openly crying throughout the hearing as the Turkish interpreter assisted her in understanding what was happening. The children all appeared visibly upset. One of Ibrahim Ghazal’s sons left the courtroom when Resto was escorted in.
Resto looked at the victim’s family with no emotion as they spoke to Clifford. Fapyo Ghazal spoke directly to Resto, saying “when this killer come into our lives, he destroy everything,” and that he wished Connecticut still had the death penalty. Fapyo Ghazal raised his voice and leaned across the table, pointing at Resto while saying “this killer.” Fapyo Ghazal said his father loved this country and believed in law and justice.
Resto faced a minimum of 25 years in prison for the murder charge and a maximum of 80 years for both charges. Resto’s attorney, Glenn Conway, said the reason Resto pleaded under the Alford Doctrine was because he maintains the shooting was an accident. Conway said Resto had a hard past, with suicide attempts and emotional and behavioral problems as a teen. Despite that, Resto was never diagnosed with any disorder, which Conway said shows Resto “has a conscience.” Conway said Resto has health problems and any sentence would be a life sentence for him.
“It’s clear he has no illusion about being a free man ever again,” Conway said.
Resto spoke briefly, saying the shooting was an accident, and “only the almighty knows it was an accident.”
Clifford said there was nothing he could do to ease the suffering of the Ghazal family, and that no sentence will equal the value of the loved one they lost. Clifford referred to Sudqieh Ghazal’s statement, that Resto didn’t kill just her husband, he killed “all of us.” Clifford said Ibrahim Ghazal was a hard-working, contributing member of society, a “polar opposite” of Resto. According to statements in court, Resto never held a job, had little to no contact with his two children and had been previously treated for a substance abuse. Clifford said the “elderly gentleman turned over his hard earned money with no resistance,” and Resto took the money and shot him in the chest.
“This was a totally innocent victim,” Clifford said. “That makes it especially egregious and heinous”
Clifford said Resto was somebody “without a moral compass,” and that the case was a “random act of evil.”
People identifying themselves as friends of Resto outside the courtroom declined to comment.