A Berkeley man was sentenced today to two years in state prison for his role in a brutal stabbing on a quiet street in the Berkeley hills more than three years ago that left the victim partially paralyzed. Nicolas Flatbush, 27, was charged with attempted murder for participating in an attack on Hamed Mirabdal, a Moraga native who was 19 at the time, in front of 74 Poppy Lane on Oct. 25, 2006, but jurors only convicted him of robbery. Blake Mastro, 23, who was described by prosecutor Eric Swalwell today as the “evil mastermind” of the attack, was convicted of both attempted murder and robbery and faces up to 16 years in state prison when he’s sentenced separately on May 13. Flatbush’s lawyer, William DuBois, asked Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer to “temper justice with mercy” and only sentence Flatbush to probation with one year in county jail, saying that Flatbush cooperated with police early in the investigation at a time when he could have faced murder charges because doctors thought Mirabdal would die. DuBois said Flatbush took responsibility for his actions, is remorseful and has had a steady job at a Safeway store for the past four and a half years. The defense lawyer also said that without Flatbush’s testimony in the trial, prosecutors would have had a hard time convicting Mastro, as Mirabdal has a poor memory due to the injuries he suffered in the attack. DuBois also said Mirabdal was “far from vulnerable” in the incident, pointing out that Mirabdal had agreed to meet Mastro and Flatbush because he wanted to buy 12 handguns from them. “There’s no telling what damage to the community that he would have done” if he had obtained the weapons, DuBois said. Swalwell told jurors during the case that Mirabdal, who played football at Campolindo High School in Moraga and now attends college, had been reselling marijuana he had bought at medical cannabis clubs and wanted to burnish his “tough guy” reputation by purchasing firearms from Mastro, who offered to sell guns at a discounted rate. Flatbush testified that he only intended to rob Mirabdal and had no idea that Mastro would stab Mirabdal 25 times in his neck and chest. Mirabdal was left permanently paralyzed on his left side. Swalwell asked Hymer to sentence Flatbush to three years in prison, saying that “his force and strength is partially responsible for the position Hamed is in today.” But the prosecutor said that if Flatbush had declined Mastro’s offer to participate in robbing Mirabdal, he thinks Mastro “would have recruited someone else and a different defendant would be sitting here (in court) today.” Swalwell said that “after this horrible robbery and violence,” Flatbush “acted in a way that should mitigate his sentence somewhat.” But Mirabdal’s father, Ali Mirabdal, said he thinks Flatbush should get the maximum sentence possible. Ali Mirabdal said Mastro recruited Flatbush because he was “looking for muscle” to help him with the crime and Flatbush held his son against his will while Mastro stabbed him. Hymer said, “This is one of those cases that does not make a judge’s job easy” but he said Flatbush should serve some time in state prison because “he played no small part” in the crime. After the hearing, Hamed Mirabdal’s mother confronted Flatbush’s mother and DuBois and was restrained by bailiffs.
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