ATLANTA — A family is working to honor a young woman who was kidnapped and killed on her way home from work by passing a law in her memory.
Demarcus Brinkley will stand trial in October in Mariam Abdulrab's 2021 death. Court records show Brinkley was previously convicted of sexual assault and child molestation. Mariam Abdulrab's family feels Brinkley should have still been locked up long before the night she was killed.
“We still miss her very much, but we’ve been doing our best to be around each other during these times," Ali Abdulrab, Mariam's younger brother, said. "It’s not easy, and we hear that it probably won’t ever get easier. We just have to learn to adapt through the hard times.”
Mariam had just left work one day in August 2021, when police said she was kidnapped near her home and killed. Her body was found a couple of miles away. Police charged Demarcus Brinkley with Abdulrab's death. Court documents show Brinkley has an extensive history of sexual assault and child molestation against kids ages 5 and 7 in 2012 and 2013. A judge sentenced him to seven years in prison and eight years probation per court documents.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Brinkley was listed on its sex offender registry, but he was not leveled. In other words, it's unclear how likely Brinkley was to commit those acts again.
"We immediately thought, 'why is this guy out walking around freely in the first place?' And we hear he has a job working security. It’s insane," Ali said. "It kind of hurt even more knowing this guy slipped through the cracks in our system.”
It would better identify and label sex offenders and track the most violent and frequent ones by having them carry labels on their IDs. It would also require the most violent sex offenders to wear ankle monitors, though a ruling in a 2019 Georgia Supreme Court case struck down that requirement.
Critics say Georgia's resources are already strained, there are bigger priorities to address and many offenders have served their time. But Waites said this measure must pass to bring relief to other families going through similar scenarios.
"Mariam’s life is important to us, this is a priority, and so now we’re all shifting and directing our focus into making sure we get this done," Waites said. "We believe that Mariam’s death was 100% preventable if, in fact, this loophole had not occurred – which is a backlog of vetting and reviewing the process.”
Ali hopes the legislation goes from a proposal to city council to the Georgia General Assembly to eventually become a law that changes systems in the state and brings closure to losing his sister.
“Part of our policy, we think, will be helpful for businesses to do background checks, knowing that if they’re hiring someone, they could be a potential risk,” Ali said. "You can easily be angry at him for committing such a crime, but I almost feel more angry at the system for letting someone like that, knowing his past history, get out of jail earlier than he should’ve been."
Ali said above all, stronger laws would help protect other families too.
"We don’t really want this to happen to anyone else," he said. "I saw how it’s affecting our family and friends still. It’s heartbreaking, and no other family should have to go through that.”