HUDSON—Lois Decker’s daughter will never know the end of her mother’s story.
During the sentencing of convicted murderer Shafiqul Islam in Columbia County Court, Tuesday morning, June 26, five women related to Mrs. Decker, the 73-year-old Hillsdale resident, who was brutally strangled in her home, November 20, 2011 delivered victim-impact statements in open court about what the loss of their mother, sister meant to them, their whole family and the community she lived in.
In her heart-wrenching yet focused statement, Dr. Diane Demarest, who had traveled from the West Coast to speak, told the court that her mother’s life was selflessly devoted to her family. “She was the glue that held us together.” She said the tragic and violent aspects of her mother’s death are overwhelming and leave her fearful despite deadbolt locks and a security system. Because Mr. Islam refused to give a statement to police about the events leading up to her mother’s death, Dr. Demarest said she will never know about her mother’s final moments, which leaves her feeling angry and helpless.
Columbia County Court Judge Jonathan Nichols sentenced Mr. Islam, 21, to an indeterminate term of 20 years to life in prison for second degree murder and an indeterminate sentence of 2 to 4 years on each of the three counts of fourth degree criminal possession of stolen property charges to which he pleaded guilty.
Judge Nichols made reference to Mr. Islam’s status as a predicate felon and registered sex offender who was somehow released by federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials despite an Immigration Court order that he be deported back to his native Bangladesh. Six weeks after his release, Mr. Islam killed Mrs. Decker.
Because Mr. Islam pleaded guilty to the crimes in May, making a trial and therefore the presentation of evidence unnecessary, Judge Nichols ordered that that murder scene photos and autopsy photos be attached to Mr. Islam’s criminal record in order that the “hideous nature” of Mr. Islam’s crimes will not in the future elude any official reviewing it whether it be for an appeal or parole.
The photos, the judge said, will do an excellent job of conveying the “highly disturbing” nature of the defendant’s acts and “follow him for the rest of his life—as they should.”
Mrs. Decker, 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 evening.
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.
During the sentencing, Judge Nichols also issued a court order of protection to keep Mr. Islam away from any of Mrs. Decker’s family members for 100 years. “I don’t think you’ll make 100 years,” said the judge, but in any case “it’s not long enough.”
District Attorney Paul Czajka offered no sentencing recommendation, when asked by the judge, but said he had “no doubt” that the judge would “do that which is just in all respects.”
Following the sentencing, DA Czajka told The Columbia Paper by phone that he was “extremely satisfied” with the outcome and that in all likelihood Mr. Islam will “never get out.”
To contact Diane Valden email .