One was described as a loving father, the other as a hard-working honor student on the brink of his college degree, but Kurdish Pride Gang members Ako and Aso Nejad received a combined 62 years in a state correction facility in criminal court on Tuesday.
Judge Cheryl Blackburn sentenced Ako Nejad to a total of 37 years for conspiracy to commit murder and attempted second-degree murder of a Metro Parks officer. His brother Aso Nejad received 25 years for conspiracy.
The full sentences from Blackburn came after emotional testimony from family and friends of the Nejad brothers, who described them as hard working, intelligent and family-oriented.
Aso Nejad’s wife testified that her husband is a good father to their 3-year-old son. The brothers’ uncle said Ako Nejad was an honor student at Glencliff High and had just one semester before he received his undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University.
But Assistant District Attorney General Rob McGuire said the Nejad brothers had “two faces.” The other side included a violent criminal history laced with multiple gun-related and drug-related arrests, he said.
Judge Blackburn sided with McGuire’s assessment, stating the Nejad brothers were leaders in the conspiracy and that their multiple previous arrests warranted the maximum sentences in the latest case.
Metro Parks Officer James Spray, who was the victim of the attempted murder, testified he couldn’t wrap his mind around why the Nejad brothers did what they did at Edwin Warner Park two years ago.
“I’ve had the hardest time understanding why people come from a war-torn country where people are suppressed and you bring that here with you,” Spray said during his testimony, referring to the violence carried out by the KPG. “To try to take the person’s life because of a drug deal, or because of wrong-place, wrong-time or because to help your friend get away… I don’t understand it. I guess I’ll never understand it.”
While on patrol Aug. 4, 2006, Spray randomly drove upon a group of Kurdish Pride Gang members who were waiting to execute a retribution killing of a Nashville drug dealer who had robbed one of them earlier.
The sentencing of the Nejad brothers is the first of two court appearances for alleged KPG members.
Three individuals, at least two of whom are cousins of the Nejads, will be in court Thursday to faces charges of coercion of a witness and retaliation for past action. Abbas Nejat, Feriya Yuzdanparast and Mohammad Nejad were charged after they allegedly made threatening statements toward one of the individuals who testified against their cousins during the July trial.