UPDATE: The former Capitol Hill resident charged for starting a New Year’s Eve fire inside a crowded Neighbours nightclub pleaded guilty to arson in federal court Friday. Under the plea agreement Musab Musmari (also Masmari) will serve the mandatory minimum of five years in prison when he is sentenced in July. The judge in the case could sentence the 30-year-old up to the maximum 20 years allowed by law.
“This defendant violated people’s right to gather safely: he put more than 700 lives at risk when he purposely started a fire at a crowded nightclub on New Year’s Eve,” said U.S. Attorney Durkan in a written statement. “Thankfully, the staff and patrons at Neighbours moved quickly to evacuate the club and extinguish the flames.”
The Seattle Times reported that Musmari had been charged in federal court and was slated to enter a guilty plea Friday afternoon in a sign the legal process surrounding the attack may move forward as a hate crime or terrorism case.
A man accused of setting a fire inside a crowded Capitol Hill gay nightclub on New Year’s Eve is expected to plead guilty to arson later today in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Musab Mohammed Masmari was charged in a felony information in federal court yesterday and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida at 2:30 p.m. in Seattle to plead to the federal charge. He previously had been charged with first-degree arson in King County Superior Court.
The federal takeover of the case lends weight to allegations that Musmari’s crime is terrorism- or hate-related. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg, who supervises the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
CHS reported that a May trial date had been set in the felony arson case. Musmari had pleaded not guilty to charges the 30-year-old started a fire inside a crowded Neighbours nightclub as New Year’s revelers welcomed in 2014 on Broadway.