The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Lima Younes sentenced to five years in prison for role in son, former UI student Ali Younes’ escape

A jury trial in August found her guilty in May for aiding and abetting the escape of her son.
Shaely Odean
The Johnson County Courthouse is seen in Iowa City on Sept. 21, 2023.

As she choked back tears, Lima Khairi Mohammad Younes, 45, received her sentencing Thursday for her role in the escape of her son and former University of Iowa student Ali Younes, 20, from the U.S.

The decision was handed down by Johnson County Judge Jason Burns, who gave Lima Younes a five-year indeterminate sentence. According to documents from the state of Iowa, an indeterminate sentencing is one in which a defendant is sent to prison for a range of years not exceeding the ruling. In this case, the ruling is five years, but she could leave sooner depending on her behavior.

Before Burns made his decision, Lima Younes was given the opportunity to address the court to make a statement. Her statement was brief — fighting back tears as she made it — simply apologizing for her actions.

She was also fined $1,025, plus a 15 percent surcharge and court costs, although Burns did waive restitution. She will continue to be held in temporary custody at the Johnson County Jail, but will eventually be transferred to an all-women prison in Mitchellville, Iowa.

The defense requested a deferred judgment during the sentencing, which her lawyer Tomas Rodriguez said was made specifically for cases in which the defendant had acted out of character, as he claimed she did.

Rodriguez also said the court should consider that Lima Younes was just doing what her husband allegedly told her to do.

“I would submit to the court that the primary leader in this case, if I can use this term, was Alfred Younes, that he was particularly in control of his family,” he said. “Miss Younes, as a dutiful wife, had to go along with decisions made by Alfred Younes.”

The state asked for a sentence of incarceration, as Assistant Johnson County Attorney Haley Huddleston said Lima Younes was a danger to the community.

“She took the law into her own hands, she took away the opportunity for Ali Younes to stand trial or for the alleged victims in that case to be heard, and for a jury of his peers to determine his guilt or innocence,” Huddleston said.

When handing his decision, Burns said he did sympathize with her as he was a parent himself.

“I do at least to some extent understand the initial desire and motivation that I think impacted your decision-making in this case,” Burns said. “However, your actions have had a tremendous impact on this community and on this very institution. In the interest of deterring future effects, I feel that incarceration is appropriate.”

Younes was initially arrested on May 9 by the UI Police Department with assistance from the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, and was charged with escape from custody and aiding and abetting, a class D felony.

According to court documents, on May 3, Younes and her husband Alfred Younes sold one of their vehicles for $20,000 and then rented a Chrysler Pacifica Minivan.

Three days later, on May 6, the couple, their son, 17-year-old daughter, and grandmother Wafe Najim, left their home to travel to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Despite having surrendered his American passport upon making bail, Ali Younes was able to board a flight to Jordan using his Jordanian passport. The country of Jordan doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

After being arrested in May, Lima Younes had a jury trial on Aug. 1 in Johnson County, pleading not guilty to her charges. Over the course of two days of witness testimony, the state argued that she had misled investigators during the initial search for Ali Younes.

RELATED: Sentencing hearings set for parents of former UI student, attempted murderer Ali Younes

This included turning off her phone before leaving for the airport with her son, resulting in calls made to her from Iowa Department of Corrections probation and Parole Officer Amanda Ahrenstorff being missed.

That same day, Lima Younes called Ahrenstorff to claim that Ali Younes was at home and that the rest of the family was returning from a trip to Davenport.

After four hours of deliberation, a jury found Lima Younes guilty of aiding and abetting escape from custody.

Her husband Alfred Younes pleaded guilty on Sept. 11 to his charge of aiding and abetting. He will be sentenced at the Johnson County Courthouse on Oct. 26.

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About the Contributors
Alejandro Rojas
Alejandro Rojas, News Editor
Alejandro Rojas is The Daily Iowan's news editor. He previously worked as a news reporter covering Johnson County and was the summer executive editor in 2023. He is a senior, double majoring in journalism and political science.
Shaely Odean
Shaely Odean, Photojournalist
Shaely Odean is a transfer student at the University of Iowa, currently in her third year. She is pursuing double majors in Journalism and Strategic Communications, as well as Sustainability Sciences. Shaely works as a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan, and her passion lies in environmental issues. Before joining the University of Iowa, she attended Kirkwood Community College, where she served as the photo editor for the Kirkwood Communique.