A man who fatally stabbed another man last year in downtown San Diego during a road rage altercation was sentenced Monday to 16 years to life in state prison.
Byron Lee, 35, was found guilty by a San Diego jury of second-degree murder, plus a knife allegation, in the June 26, 2021, killing of 34-year-old Yacoub Abdallah. Abdallah, a resident of Midlothian, Illinois, was in San Diego on a vacation, according to his family.
Police said they initially received calls just before 3 p.m. that day regarding a car crash at 900 First Ave., where Abdallah was found with “trauma to his upper body.”
He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Testimony from Lee’s trial indicated Abdallah was stabbed in the chest, with the fatal wound penetrating his heart.
A subsequent police investigation found that prior to the crash, Lee and Abdallah got into a traffic dispute a few blocks away at 300 Market St., according to Lt. Andra Brown of the San Diego Police Department.
A fight ensued and each man drove off, according to the lieutenant. Abdallah later realized he was injured, lost consciousness while behind the wheel and crashed into a light pole, tree and power box on First Avenue.
Lee was arrested in September of last year in the San Bernardino County city of Ontario.
At Lee’s sentencing hearing, Deputy District Attorney Christina Eastman described the defendant as “an individual who took the life of somebody over a petty driving error.”
Lee made a statement prior to being sentenced, in which told Abdallah’s family that he was “terribly sorry that this happened.”
Lee said, “I also went them to know that I truly did not intend to take his life. I absolutely did not want to do that. That was not my intention and for that, I am absolutely sorry. I pray for their forgiveness.”
San Diego Superior Court Judge Steven E. Stone rejected a defense motion for a reduced sentence on the grounds that Abdallah may have been the aggressor or had some culpability in the incident. The judge stated that he didn’t believe “in any way” that the evidence he heard at trial supported that contention.
“The victim in this case did absolutely nothing wrong,” Stone said. “This was completely senseless. There was no reason for it. It should never have happened. There was no justification for it. And to say that somehow Yacoub was responsible in any way is just wrong.”
While 16 years to life was the maximum sentence Stone could impose due to the second-degree murder conviction, he told Abdallah’s family, “It’s more than warranted” and “If I could impose a longer sentence, I would.”
–City News Service