NEW YORK -- A Malian national who escaped from prison twice after being charged with killing a U.S. Defense Department official and wounding a U.S. Marine during a 2000 carjacking in Niger pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
Alhassane Ould Mohamed admitted fatally shooting William Bultemeier, a Department of Defense attache, as Bultemeier left a restaurant in the Niger capital of Niamey on Dec. 22, 2000, and wounding Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher McNeely, who came to Bultemeier's aid.
"I am sorry," Mohamed, 46, said through an interpreter, speaking both French and Arabic during his appearance at federal court in Brooklyn. But he told Judge William F. Kuntz II that he didn't intend to kill Bultemeier.
A day before Bultemeier was scheduled to return home to North Carolina, he and other embassy employees went to dinner at a restaurant called La Cloche. Bultemeier, 51, was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser with diplomatic license plates.
As Bultemeier left the restaurant shortly after midnight, he was accosted by Mohamed and another man armed with a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle. Mohamed demanded the keys to the SUV before shooting Bultemeier in the chest with the pistol, authorities said. When McNeely tried to intervene, the second man used the AK-47 to shoot both victims, the indictment says.
After Mohamed pulled the keys from Bultemeier's pocket, both men drove away in the SUV. McNeely survived the attack but was left with "lasting injuries," federal prosecutors said.
Mohamed was arrested in Mali two days after the killing and remained in custody there until he escaped in 2002. In late 2009, he was arrested again in Mali in the killings of four Saudi Arabian nationals in northern Niger. He was sent back to Niger, where he was convicted of the murders and sentenced to 20 years behind bars. But he escaped from prison a second time.
Mohamed was extradited to the U.S. in March 2014. Prosecutors said Thursday that they were working to make arrangements for Bultemeier's family and McNeely to attend Mohamed's sentencing April 26.
He is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
This story has been corrected to show that the defendant's last name is Mohamed, not Mohammed, and that he is 46, not 45.