HUDSON—In Columbia County Court Thursday morning, May 24, Shafiqul Islam, 22, pleaded guilty to all four counts of the Grand Jury indictment against him in connection with the strangulation death of Lois Decker of Hillsdale last November.
Mr. Islam is a convicted/registered sex offender, who served prison time and was supposed to be deported back to his native Bangladesh in 2008, but somehow slipped through cracks in the system.
Several members of Mrs. Decker’s family looked on as Mr. Islam spoke slowly and deliberately, answering “Guilty,” in response to Columbia County Judge Jonathan Nichol’s queries as to how he pleaded on each charge: second degree murder for intentionally causing the death of Mrs. Decker in her Cold Water Street home; and three counts of fourth degree criminal possession of stolen property for stealing the murder victim’s car, her credit card and a truck he took from a man’s garage, all for his own personal gain.
Judge Nichols took repeated steps to insure that Mr. Islam, who has no high school diploma or general equivalency degree, could read and understand the charges against him and was aware of the consequences of his guilty pleas—that he was waiving his right to a trial and his right to remain silent.
No plea deal with the District Attorney was struck in this case. Mr. Islam admitted to all counts of the initial indictment with no assurances about what his sentence will be.
Judge Nichols told Mr. Islam the his guilty pleas were equivalent to guilty verdicts on all counts and will result in deportation back to his country of origin should he complete his sentence, which on the murder charge alone could range from 25 years to life in prison and the imposition of a fine up to $100,000.
Mrs. Decker, 73, a Sunday School teacher and retired Roeliff Jansen School cafeteria head cook, was found dead in her home at 18 Cold Water Street by Sheriff’s Office Sergeant John DeRocha, who went there after being unable to contact her by phone about her car, which was involved in an accident earlier that day.
The case began to unfold when deputies were called to the scene of a one-car rollover accident on State Route 23 in Martindale, Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 6:42 p.m. Two local people came upon the accident and stopped to assist the young man involved in the crash, later identified as Mr. Islam. But when the passersby tried to help the driver, he allegedly attempted drive off with a vehicle belonging to one of them. After both people who had stopped to help prevented him from stealing the car, Mr. Islam fled on foot, went to a nearby house and within a few minutes stole a 2011 Ford F-150 pickup truck from an attached garage.
The stolen truck, operated by Mr. Islam, was found by State Police Sergeant Fred Mueller at the intersection of Warren and Sixth streets in Hudson at 9:56 p.m. Mr. Islam was subsequently charged with being in possession of the stolen truck and was jailed.
He was indicted for Mrs. Decker’s murder and stealing her car and her credit card in February of this year.
Judge Nichols scheduled Mr. Islam’s sentencing for June 26 at 11:30 a.m. and sent him back to jail without bail.
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