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Archive for Friday, August 11, 2006

Suspect in Jewish center shootings tries to plead guilty

Attorney to discuss consequences with client

August 11, 2006

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— Accused Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle shooter Naveed Haq attempted to plead guilty Thursday to nine felonies, including a charge of aggravated first-degree murder that could bring the death penalty.

But after objections from Haq's attorney, who said he had concerns about Haq's mental competency, the judge ordered Haq's arraignment to be continued until Tuesday, and no pleas were entered.

After the counts were read, Haq whispered into the ear of defense attorney C. Wesley Richards.

"My client is indicating that it is his desire to enter guilty pleas," Richards then told King County Superior Court Judge Michael Trickey. "I have concerns about his reasoning."

Richards said Haq's request took him by surprise, and that he has had limited contact with his client.

He asked the judge not to allow Haq to enter guilty pleas, "so I can fully discuss with him the consequences ... he has a mental health history."

Haq, 30, is accused of forcing his way into the Seattle offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on July 28 and opening fire on employees. One, Pamela Waechter, was killed, and five other women were injured during the rampage.

Haq is charged with one count of aggravated first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, burglary and malicious harassment, the state's hate-crime law.

Don Raz, senior deputy prosecuting attorney, agreed to continue the arraignment and hold off on pleas. "Mr. Haq certainly has the right to plead guilty, but I think it would serve all interests" to investigate his intent.

The judge and attorneys expressed uncertainty about the legal implications of a guilty plea, especially to an aggravated murder charge that could bring the death penalty.

Trickey asked the lawyers to research the issue and send him briefs by today outlining the case history and addressing whether Haq even could plead guilty to the most serious charge against him.

"I think the case law does permit Mr. Haq to do this, but I'm concerned about Count 1," Trickey said.

King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty for Haq. Aggravated first-degree murder is punishable by death or life in prison without the possibility of release.

Haq is being held without bail in King County Jail.

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