The Arizona mother of the 17-year-old boy who was stabbed to death by a white man for listening to rap music in his car is speaking out against the suspect.
Last week, Elijah Al-Amin was listening to rap in the parking lot of a Circle K gas station before entering the convenience store. 27-year-old Michael Adams walked up to her son, 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin, as he stood at the soda machine inside a Circle K. Then police say Adams slit the teen's throat from behind.
Peoria Police say Adams admitted to stabbing the teen because he felt “threatened” by the music he was playing.
Adams’ attorney says he suffers from mental illness and was not taking any medication when he was recently released from prison.
However, Serina Rides, Al-Amin's mother, believes the mental illness defense is just an excuse for a hate crime.
"There's no excuse for this," Rides told FOX10 Phoenix. "There's not at all, there's no excuse. I don't care that somebody's hiding behind mental illness, there's no excuse."
The Arizona Department of Corrections says officials never designated Adams as mentally ill. His criminal record reveals he attacked two people in the past with deadly weapons. While he was in jail, he also assaulted a correctional officer.
On Monday, July 9, friends and family of Al-Amin prayed for the teen at the Islamic Community Center in Tempe before a burial ceremony in Maricopa County.
Outside the Circle K store where Al-Amin was stabbed, community members created a memorial for the teen with white porcelain angels, fresh flowers and burning candles of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Catholic patron saint of Mexico.
According to Rides, the 17-year-old victim was going to turn 18 in two weeks and was looking forward to his senior year in high school. Rides also said Al-Amin worked at Subway and Taco Bell to save up for his own car.
"My last words to him was, 'Elijah, I love you,' [and] he said, 'I love you too, mom,'" Rides said. "Those were his last words to me and I'm at peace with that."
Now, Rides is still dealing with the painful reality of life without her son.
"I'm so numb and hurt to the core of my soul," Rides said. "But I have to stay focused because I know that's what he would want and to make sure justice is served for him."
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office charged Adams with first-degree murder, which, in Arizona, carries a sentence of life behind bars or death.
Adams is next scheduled to appear in court on July 15.
(Photo: FOX10 Phoenix)