Westerlo man sentenced in death of fellow law-school student

— Photo from the New York State Police

Benjamin Rauf

WESTERLO — Benjamin Rauf, a Westerlo native, pleaded guilty to and has been sentenced for fatally shooting his law-school classmate in 2015.

The crime took place in Hockessin, a bedroom community on the northern edge of Delaware.

Rauf, 29, pleaded guilty on Feb. 4 to manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, both felonies, in connection with the death of 25-year-old Shazim Uppal, according to statements from the Delaware Department of Justice.

Uppal, a law school classmate of Rauf and a resident of Hockessin, was found dead in his car in the parking lot of a health-care facility in Hockessin after being shot multiple times in August 2015. Both were both attending Temple University’s law school in Philadelphia, about 40 miles from Hockessin.

A New Castle County Superior Court judge sentenced Rauf to 15 years in prison, followed by six months of home confinement or work release, then two years of probation during which he must complete 100 hours of community service each year involving either youth outreach or legal training to assist the less privileged.

In 2015, police were notified about a car parked at the health-care facility for an unusually long time, leading to the discovery of Uppal’s body. Investigators also found a large quantity of marijuana in the car, leading them to conclude the death was not a random act of violence.

After several weeks of police investigation, Rauf was originally charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony when he was taken into custody by New York State Police in September 2015. His grandmother told The Enterprise at that time, “All I can do is say my prayers and hope we come out of this somehow.”

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