Insanity plea to new Jewish Federation shooting charges

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The man accused of killing one woman and wounding five others during a shooting rampage last summer at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Wednesday to 11 new charges filed against him in connection with the shootings.

Naveed Haq, 31, also changed the not-guilty pleas he had previously entered to nine charges filed against him last year, instead pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Haq was charged last year with one count of aggravated first-degree murder for the slaying of the charity’s fundraising director, 58-year-old Pamela Waechter; five counts of attempted first-degree murder; and one count each of kidnapping, burglary and malicious harassment, the state’s version of a hate crime.

King County prosecutors on Wednesday charged Haq with five additional counts of burglary and five additional counts of malicious harassment. They also charged him with unlawful imprisonment for allegedly holding captive one of the victims who survived.

Deputy Prosecutor Don Raz said Haq’s violent crime spree is more accurately represented by the 20 charges he now faces.

But defense attorney C. Wesley Richards said Haq suffers from “debilitating” mental illness that has led to numerous suicide attempts and hospitalizations over the past decade. King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, who died last Thursday, had cited Haq’s mental-health history when he announced last year that he would not seek the death penalty.

Haq is accused of forcing his way into the Belltown offices of the federation on July 28 by holding a gun to the back of a 14-year-old girl and following her into the building.

Court documents allege that he carried two guns and spewed anti-Semitic statements as he made his way through the office, randomly shooting people.

Haq reportedly told operators in a 911 call during the shooting, “These are Jews. I want these Jews to get out.”

Law-enforcement officials said that Haq identified himself as an “American Muslim” but that he was acting alone and had no ties to terrorist organizations.

Richards said the defense will argue that at the time of the crime, Haq’s ability to understand what he was doing and the difference between right and wrong were diminished.

Richards also said the defense intends to deny that the shootings were a hate crime but rather the result of Haq’s mental illness, which Richards described as bipolar disorder with psychotic features.

Haq’s trial is scheduled to begin in January. If convicted on the murder charge, Haq will receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Seattle Times, USA
May 31, 2007
Christine Clarridge
seattletimes.nwsource.com

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This post was last updated: Apr. 22, 2008