The death of 15-year old Fallon Smart sent a shock throughout the local community. Smart was hit when she was crossing the street, and the young man that hit her left the scene. This hit-and-run turned into a case of manslaughter because Smart died from her injuries. As her family waited for justice to be served, an arrest was made in the case. A foreign national studying at Portland Community College on scholarship had run Smart down.
The 2016 death of Smart was scheduled to be settled in a court of law, but this will not be happening as scheduled. Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, 21, was due to stand trial in Portland last week but vanished nine days before the start date. He was released on bail, and it appears he may have left the country with the support of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia.
While at first glance it may seem that the judge set the bail high enough to keep Noorah in jail up until he went to trial, this was not the case. When Noorah was arrested, he requested a court-appointed attorney due to his status as a student and not working. At the time he reported a small living stipend as his only income. This quickly changed as the Embassy became involved.
The Saudi Arabian consulate quickly replaced the free attorney with two defense attornies that they paid for. The experienced team of Ginger Mooney and David McDonald are now handling the case. The living stipend that Noorah reported to the court as his only income was also from the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
As the family and prosecutors noticed the troubling ties to the Saudi Arabian government, they made a plea to the judge to keep Noorah in jail. His original bail was set at $280,000. After the grand jury had come back with an indictment, this bail was increased to $1,000,000. The judge was not legally able to just deny bail because that action is only applied to charges of murder. Because Noorah was accused of the lesser crime of First Degree Manslaughter, the judge set the bail high to try to keep the poverty stricken student in custody.
Noorah needed to find someone to post $100,000 to get out of jail. The Saudi government did just that. According to a report about the government’s involvement in several legal cases:
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regularly posts bail for its citizens arrested in the U.S. In Utah, for instance, the Saudi consulate posted $100,000 bail for a Saudi national accused of rape in 2015 (he also fled but was later caught and convicted). The Saudis posted a $2 million bail in 2013 in Missouri for a Saudi student who was accused of murdering a bar owner (the charges were dropped).
In California, in 2013, a Saudi princess was accused of human trafficking; the government covered her $5 million bail (charges in that case were also dropped).
On Sept. 11, 2016, which would have been Fallon Smart’s 16th birthday, the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles posted a $100,000 bond for Noorah. In Oregon, defendants may be released when they post 10 percent of the bail amount.”
When the Saudi consulate posted bail for Noorah, there were certain protections put into place to keep him in the area. He was fitted with a monitoring device and ordered to give up his passport. He was electronically tracked until he removed his ankle unit and vanished.
It does not seem to be too much of a stretch for the family of Smart to demand answers from the Saudi consulate. The victims family point to the fact the Noorah seems to have extensive support from his home country to avoid going to trial in the United States. A statement made by the victim’s uncle Shane Smart shows their frustration and anger over his escape:
“From day 1, our family objected to a bail because of things known about Abdulrahman Noorah that made us believe he was a flight risk.
Abdulrahman Noorah has now disappeared and we can only assume trying to return to his home country to evade paying for what he did to my sweet niece.It seems to me, based on previous facts and strange occurrences, there are strings being pulled for this man. I am not making accusations, but am simply stating facts, and what one might speculate based on those facts.
He needs to be re-apprehended and pay for his crime.”