Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jihadi Freed by Insanity Defense

Nothing insane about him at all, just like there was nothing insane about the Beltway Snipers or the UNC Alumni who drove into a crowd of Chapel Hill students...pre-meditated acts of individual jihad.

Another example of how lack of awareness will doom us all. So long as the jury pool (the public) remains uneducated about Islamist aggression, you will see much more of the insanity defense for Jihadis.

From the Seattle Times:

Judge declares mistrial in Haq case; Jewish Federation jury couldn't agree

Seattle Times staff reporter


Naveed Haq is flanked by attorneys C. Wesley Richards, left, and John Carpenter as a mistrial is declared Wednesday. Behind them, Jewish Federation volunteers react.

Jewish Federation employees Penny Sinder, left, and Kim Greenhall console one another at prosecutors' news conference after the announcement of a mistrial.


Jewish Federation employees Penny Sinder, left, and Kim Greenhall console one another at prosecutors' news conference after the announcement of a mistrial.

Women with scars on their bodies and indelible memories of gunfire struggled to grasp an incongruous truth: After six weeks of testimony, thousands of pages of evidence and eight days of deliberation, a jury couldn't decide on the guilt or innocence of their attacker, Naveed Haq.

Yet even as the victims and prosecutors grappled Wednesday with the mistrial declared in Haq's case, momentum was quickly mounting for a second trial.

"It didn't shake our confidence," said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. "We're going to come back and do it again."

Prosecutors immediately announced that they would seek to retry Haq after Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas, reacting to word that the jury was hopelessly deadlocked on 14 of the 15 criminal counts against Haq, declared a mistrial.

A status hearing will be held next Thursday to discuss the retrial, an undertaking that presents new challenges for attorneys on both sides and promises to extend the emotional roller coaster the victims have been riding since Haq burst into their workplace and began shooting nearly two years ago.

"I can't begin to figure out what they were thinking," Carol Goldman said as she tearfully contemplated the jurors' decision. Goldman testified during Haq's trial that she was shot in the knee by the gunman. Jurors delivered their only verdict on the count involving Goldman: They found Haq not guilty of first-degree attempted murder but deadlocked on the lesser charge of second-degree attempted murder. "I really was never expecting this verdict," Goldman said.

Haq, 32, showed no emotion when the mistrial was declared, and shook the hands of his attorneys when court concluded.

Jurors had deliberated since May 23, and through several written questions to the judge over the past week it was clear they were having a difficult time determining whether he was guilty as charged or not guilty by reason of insanity. On Monday, the jury passed a note to Judge Kallas informing her they were deadlocked on all but one charge; she ordered them to continue.

On Wednesday, Kallas received another note from the jury just after lunch that stated, "The jury has continued deliberations ... there has been no change." After filling out a verdict form for their one acquittal, the six women and six men entered the courtroom and were asked whether anyone disagreed with the statement that they were deadlocked. No one did, and they were excused by the judge.

The mistrial was a bitter disappointment for victims, who said they supported prosecutors and a retrial.

"There is no argument Haq killed [federation employee] Pam [Waechter]. There is no argument he viciously shot five others. There is no argument that he made anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements. Somehow, all this was not enough," federation President and CEO Richard Fruchter said.

The hung jury also ignited anger.

Victim Cheryl Stumbo said the look in Haq's eyes at the time of the shooting was so vacant she didn't understand how anyone could doubt his intent when he opened fire.

"You don't drive over the pass with ... a rifle and hollow-point bullets and point a [gun] at somebody's head and not mean to kill them," she said.

Stumbo said she wished the jury had deliberated longer. "I'd like to hear them explain. I know it was a hard thing to do."

Most jurors declined to comment to reporters, but one, who didn't give her name, called the decision "heart-rending."

"I am very upset," she said. "I have great compassion for the victims and their families and everyone else in this case."

Asked to describe the atmosphere in the jury room Wednesday, the juror said "We were all very, very sad."

Haq's parents, who testified for the defense during the trial, said they were relieved to hear of the hung jury. "This tragedy has hopefully brought some awareness to the debilitating effects that schizophrenia/bipolar disorder have on someone who suffers from these mental diseases ... There is no real closure to this case as we continue to agonize over the death of [Pamela Waechter] and the suffering of the wounded victims," Haq's father, Mian Haq, wrote in a statement.

Haq will remain in custody pending outcome of the retrial.

Throughout the trial, Haq's attorneys never disputed that the Tri-Cities man barged into the Belltown offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on July 28, 2006, and killed Waechter and wounded five others. Haq, of Pakistani heritage, reportedly railed against Jews and U.S. policies with Israel when he opened fire.

Haq, who has a long history of mental illness, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all counts, his attorneys arguing that he was not criminally liable for his actions.

In order to find Haq not guilty by reason of insanity, which would result in commitment to a mental hospital, the jury would have had to agree unanimously that at the time of the shootings, Haq was unable to perceive the nature and quality of the act with which he is charged; or that he was unable to tell right from wrong with reference to that act.

To find him guilty of aggravated first-degree murder, the most serious charge he faced, they would have had to agree unanimously that he killed federation employee Waechter with premeditated intent.

Legal experts say insanity cases can be tough for juries to decide because of conflicting, complicated medical testimony.

In the Haq trial, doctors testifying for both sides clashed on many fronts and provided a range of differing opinions, from Haq's diagnosis to his mental state before and during the shootings.

"At some point the judge has to accept they cannot reach a verdict," said John Junker, a professor of law at the University of Washington. A case of this magnitude is "a big responsibility to put on somebody."

From the type of questions the jurors sent out to the judge — seeking further definitions of the insanity requirements and of "right" and "wrong" — it seemed as though they were locked in a philosophical debate, said Philip Anthony, CEO of the jury-and-trial consulting firm DecisionQuest. Anthony is not involved in the Haq case.

"When cases are very difficult for jurors, they almost always revert to the definition of words," Anthony said. "They [were] divided at a really fundamental level as opposed to factual," he guessed.

One challenge for Haq's defense attorneys heading into another trial will be the task of finding a jury that knows little of the high-profile case or mistrial, legal observers said. And prosecutors will lose the element of surprising the defense when it comes to their experts and presentation of evidence, said Anthony.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they would not likely have to change much about their case, except to reduce count six, the one involving the shooting of Goldman, to second-degree attempted murder to reflect the jury's sole acquittal.

Haq was originally charged with one count of aggravated first-degree murder for slaying Waechter; five counts of attempted first-degree murder for shooting five other women; one count of first-degree kidnapping; one count of unlawful imprisonment; one count of first-degree burglary; and six counts of violating the state's hate-crime law.

Attorneys on each side painted very different pictures of Haq during the complex trial. Prosecutors described him as a frustrated, chronically unemployed and awkward man who decided that "suicide by cop" was the answer the morning he drove from the Tri-Cities area toward the federation with three guns in his pickup.

Haq's attorneys said that he had suffered through an abusive childhood and increasingly paranoid teenage and college years, loathed his short stature and Muslim heritage and was reeling from a dangerous regimen of prescription medications when he entered a manic state and heard God telling him to go on a mission.

Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or

Seattle Times staff reporters Jennifer Sullivan and Nancy Bartley contributed to this report.

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