Man Pleads Guilty For Murder Of Motel Owners

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A Delaware man who shot the owners of an Elkton motel in March 2021 is facing 95 years in prison.

Hakeem M. Evans, 28, of Newark, Del., pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder on Monday, and was sentenced to 20 years and 15 years in prison. Evans was a guest at the New Eastern Inn when he fatally shot Ushaben Patel and critically wounded her husband.

Ushaben and her husband Dilipbhai had owned and operated the motel for more than 30 years. Police officers used words like “genuinely nice” to describe them.

Police found Ushaben Patel dead in a residential area behind the lobby office and Dilipbhai Patel injured. Both were taken to Christiana Hospital in Delaware and Dilipbhai was later discharged.

Surveillance cameras videotaped the shootings, and police were able to determine that the shooter was Evans, who had rented Room 206 at the New Eastern Inn at some point before the incident.

An officer contacted Evans’ mother after seeing that she dropped him off at the motel. Both his mother and an officer spoke with the suspect, trying to persuade him to turn himself in. He was eventually taken into custody.

Three days after the fatal shooting incident, Evans’ court-appointed defense attorney told the judge that Evans had a 10th-grade education, was unemployed, single, and had two children. The judge denied Evans a bond and Evans will remain in the count jail until his Jan. 19 sentencing.

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association released a statement on the murder of Ushaben Patel and attempted murder of Dilipbhai Patel, saying that the attacks against hoteliers are increasing.

The couple that was murdered had a positive reputation together. Ushaben shared meals with needy people, and allowed an elderly U.S. military veteran to stay at her motel for six to eight months until he could get into a care program. Ushaben and Dilipbhai were regarded as kind and helped struggling people, but they also enforced “tight rules” at their motel.

John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.