Father of slain Muslim pizza delivery driver forgives, hugs defendant in Kentucky court
LEXINGTON, Ky. — The father of a slain Muslim pizza delivery driver forgave and embraced the man who was sentenced to prison for playing a part in his son’s death.
During the sentencing on Tuesday, Abdul-Munim Sombat Jitmoud hugged the defendant, Trey Alexander Relford, who cried as it happened.
The father said he did it in the spirit of Islam.
“Islam teaches that God will not be able to forgive” someone until the person who was wronged forgives that person, Jitmoud told CNN affiliate WKYT. “The door of opportunity for God to forgive him is open. … So, reach out to Him. You have a new chapter of good life coming,” he told Relford in court.
In April 2015, Salahuddin Jitmoud was making one of his last deliveries for the night as a Pizza Hut delivery driver when he was stabbed to death and robbed at an apartment complex in Lexington, Kentucky, according to WKYT. His body was found lying in the breezeway of the complex.
Three people were arrested in the crime, but a grand jury chose only to indict Relford, WKYT reported. Officials say Relford planned the robbery, but he denied killing Jitmoud.
Relford was sentenced to 31 years in prison after pleading guilty to complicity to murder, complicity to robbery, and attempted evidence tampering in the stabbing death of Jitmoud.
Jitmoud’s father told Relford he forgives him “on behalf of Salahuddin and his mother,” who died two years before her son.
“It’s been two years and seven months of suffering along with many nightmares,” Jitmoud told CNN. “Whatever happens to you is from Allah. Let the believer put their trust in Him.”
According to CNN affiliate WLEX, Relford told the Jitmoud family, “There’s not much I can really say. I’m sorry about what happened that day. I cannot do nothing to give that back to you.”
Despite this, Jitmoud reached a place of forgiveness.
“I’m angry at the devil, who’s misguiding you and misleading you to do such a horrible crime,” Jitmoud told Relford in court Tuesday. “I don’t blame you. I’m not angry at you. I forgive you.”
He said he read the Quran more often to find peace. The 51st verse of the ninth chapter of the Quran is one verse that comforted him the most.
“Say, ‘Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.’ And upon Allah [God] let the believers rely.”
After the sentencing, Jitmoud said he whispered into Relford’s ear to “do good deeds” when he gets out of prison and that he has “confidence that Allah is forgiving.”