Three in Latasha Roundtree's fatal shooting to serve prison time

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — Latice Roundtree said during a victim's impact statement that she wanted the defendants to understand how "truly hurt" her family is by their actions, which led to her sister Latasha's fatal shooting Sept. 22, 2012.

"She was a lovely young lady," Latice said. "This has been a heavy load on my family."

Three defendants charged in 19-year-old Latasha Roundtree's fatal shooting were sentenced Friday in Linn County District Court. Liban Muhidin, 21, Jeremiah Ellis, 20, and Yasin Muhidin, 18, each received prison time for their part in her death.

Latasha Roundtree was shot while sitting in a car with two friends headed to a party the defendants also attended that night. Roundtree wasn't the intended target but she was the only victim. She died a few hours later from a gunshot wound to the head.

Reggie Williams, Roundtree’s father, along with other family members, attended the back to back hearings Friday, but he waived his right to give a victim’s impact statement.

Liban Muhidin of Cedar Rapids pleaded guilty in July 2013 to conspiracy to commit a forcible felony. He admitted to conspiring with four others to shoot at the vehicle. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He declined to speak before receiving the sentence.

Clemens Erdahl, Liban's attorney, asked for a suspended sentence and probation, because Liban had cooperated in the case and provided testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Tajh Ross, 20, who was convicted last week following a two week bench trial in July.

Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Grady said probation wasn't appropriate because Liban had the weapons brought to the party that night and knew they would be used. He "willfully" participated in this incident that led to death, Grady said.

Ellis of Cedar Rapids pleaded guilty in May to amended charges of accessory after the fact, conspiracy to commit a felony of going armed and intimidation with a dangerous weapon. Ellis admitted that he fired a loaded handgun at the car and admitted to participating with others who went armed and planned to injure or intimidate others that night. He was sentenced to 17 years in this case and another 10 years for violating a term of probation in another case. The sentences were ran consecutively for 27 years in prison.

Ellis said he wanted to express his sorrow to the Roundtree family and friends, and apologized to them.

"I didn't know her but I know she was loved," Ellis said looking at her family.

Ellis also was required to pay $1,627 in car damages to the parents of Haley McConnell, who was the driver of the car the night Roundtree died, and $7,500 in restitution to the crime victims fund.

Grady told Ellis he hoped he took advantage of this time in prison to change and become a better person because he thinks Ellis has that ability.

Yasin Muhidin of Cedar Rapids, pleaded guilty in May to involuntary manslaughter and trafficking stolen weapons. He admitted to aiding and abetting by going armed with intent. Muhidin said he didn’t take the guns out of the car trunk but he drove the car with the guns to the area. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

Yasin apologized to the Roundtree family. He said it was a misunderstanding that night and "it wasn't supposed to go down like that."

"She was a friend and I ask for you to forgive me," Yasin said facing the family.

Yasin faced 15 years in prison but Grady said he was going to run the sentences concurrently for a total of 10 years based on his age, 17 at the time of the incident, which is a mitigating circumstance.

Yasin also is required to pay victim's restitution of $150,000 to Roundtree's estate.

Each of the men, as part of their plea agreements to lesser charges, agreed to cooperate with police and the prosecutor about the shooting and to testify against Ross.

Maybanks said each of the men had cooperated in the investigation of this case and provided valuable testimony against Ross and they had fulfilled their plea agreements.

According to trial testimony, Ross admitted to firing a .40 caliber handgun at the car, which killed Roundtree. He faces up to life in prison without parole and will be sentenced Oct. 3.

There are two other defendants in this case facing sentencing and trial.

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