A Decatur man who police say murdered his girlfriend on Thanksgiving Day was on probation at the time of the shooting, had a warrant issued for his arrest nine days before the shooting and had faced prior charges of domestic violence.

Abdullah El-Amin Mustafa Sayyed-El, 50, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in June for drug possession and other charges, but the sentence was suspended and he received 24 months of supervised probation, according to court records. Police allege he shot Latonya Michelle Rasheed on Thursday at least once in the chest. Rasheed, 42, was from Moulton and has three children.

Morgan County 911 received a call at 10:36 p.m. Thursday reporting the shooting at 204 Fourth Ave. N.W. Unit 2, Sayyed’s residence, according to an affidavit filed with the Morgan County District Court by Detective Michael Burleson.

Burleson said Sayyed shot her with a Lorcin .380 handgun and was at the scene when police arrived. Bond for Sayyed on the murder charge was set at $150,000, and he remained in Morgan County Jail on Monday.

Natiana Payne, a close friend of one of Rasheed’s sons, said the death is tragic.

“She was a sweet person. She would give you the shirt off her back and she would give you her last,” she said.

Natiana Payne’s mother, also Rasheed’s friend, agreed.

“She was outgoing, fun to be around, always laughing,” said Pebbles Payne. “I always enjoyed being with her.”

Pebbles Payne said she also knows Sayyed.

“He’s known for mistreating women, but I would never have thought in a million years that he would take her life,” Pebbles Payne said. “When they met he put on a big old front, and then on into the relationship he started mistreating her. She just wanted to be loved.”

In 2017, Sayyed was charged with domestic violence involving a different woman when he allegedly “slapped his girlfriend … across the face with his open hand causing her eye to swell and leaving visual injuries,” according to a police affidavit. The same incident also resulted in charges of resisting arrest and possession of a controlled substance. He had previously been charged with domestic violence in Madison County.

Sayyed was arrested this year when he allegedly was “cursing and shouting repeatedly” on 12th Avenue Northwest. He was charged with attempting to elude police when, according to a police officer, he “continued to walk away from me for an extended period of time after he was advised that he was under arrest.”

As he was being booked into Morgan County Jail after that May 16 arrest, “a white crystal substance was located on his person,” and it tested positive as methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty, resulting in the supervised probation he was on when Rasheed was killed.

In June, he wrote a letter from jail to Morgan County Circuit Judge Jennifer Howell saying he was a paralegal and asking that she recommend that the District Attorney’s Office hire him.

“I believe that would serve the best interests of both the people and the courts and be an excellent addition to the office of the prosecutor,” he wrote.

He didn’t get the job.

Sayyed was formerly known as John Thomas Russell III. He was first arrested when he was 17, according to court records.

He was charged with armed robbery in 1991, when he was 22, after he held a gun on a man walking a pit bull on Sixth Avenue Northwest and told the man he would kill him if he did not give him the dog. The dog was valued at $150, according to its owner. Sayyed, who at that time went by the alias John Cridion, was separately charged with armed robbery of a Bud’s Convenience Store, where he took $80. Sayyed eventually pleaded guilty.

According to mental health records submitted to the court prior to his guilty plea, Sayyed told doctors he was having hallucinations in the two years before the robbery. He said that doors were speaking to him, and would sometimes “tell him to hurt people,” according to a psychiatrist. At one point he was cutting his wrists, according to a report, but he later told a psychiatrist that he was not suicidal. “The voices told him he could cut off a tattoo on his arm, so he proceeded to do so, and he felt better afterward,” the doctor wrote. Sayyed had been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for a short stay in 1989, according to court records.

Sayyed was sentenced to 25 years for the robberies in 1992 and was granted parole in 2014, but frequently had warrants issued for his arrest when he failed to make restitution payments.

The most recent such warrant was issued Nov. 20, nine days before the shooting.

Sayyed filed a hardship affidavit Saturday stating he had no income and requesting an attorney. District Judge Charles Langham granted his request late Monday and appointed Griff Belser to represent him. 

eric@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2435. Twitter @DD_Fleischauer.

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