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Woman who ran over people with vehicle gets 2 years in prison

FARGO - A Fargo woman who pleaded guilty to running over several people with her car was sentenced to two years in prison Wednesday but told the court she had been harassed and was trying to defend herself.

Sumaya Hassan, 23, was originally charged with two counts of attempted murder but her charges were later changed to aggravated assault. Hassan admitted to driving her car into a group of people she had been arguing with on April 21 in the parking lot of Holy Cross Catholic Church.

Judge Wade Webb gave Hassan two years without probation, saying that she probably was provoked but that her actions were dangerous to the community.

"To hit people, strike people with a motor vehicle, is not a reasonable response," he said. "It did threaten serious harm to multiple individuals."

After pleading guilty, Hassan, who has no prior offenses, told the court she is not a violent person and the people she was arguing with had been following her and harassing her for some time.

"They've put so much fear in my life," Hassan said. "I never wanted this to happen. I tried so many times to stay away from them."

But a victim told the court Hassan totaled her car in the incident, which caused her to lose her job when she could no longer get to work.

"The victims are terrified of the defendant," said Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Cherie Clark. Clark also pointed out that Hassan fled the scene and continually could not get her story straight, first telling police that she wasn't there, then saying she was there but was too intoxicated to remember what happened.

"The defendant will say nearly anything to avoid consequences," Clark said.

Hassan's defense attorney Laura Reynolds told the court that Hassan is emotionally unstable after fleeing her native country of Somalia about a decade ago during a civil war, and witnessing her father and brother being killed.

"I don't believe my client is a violent person ... up until this one incident when she was pushed to the brink," Reynolds said.

Hassan is also prohibited from contacting the victims.