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Originally published May 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 1, 2008 at 6:32 PM

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Haq's brother testifies Jewish Federation shooter obsessive

Naveed Haq was never very adept socially, but after he began slipping deeper and deeper into mental illness, he became obsessed with trying to improve his appearance and win friends, his younger brother testified in court this morning.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Naveed Haq was never very adept socially, but after he began slipping deeper and deeper into mental illness, he became obsessed with trying to improve his appearance and win friends, his younger brother testified in court this morning.

Hasan Haq, who described living with his brother as sometimes "unbearable," told a jury that Naveed Haq grew a goatee, then shaved it off, saying women didn't like facial hair. He worked out obsessively at a gym, two or three times a day for weeks, then decided women preferred husky men. He tried platform shoes to increase his height and donned a toupee.

But each stage of Naveed Haq's self-improvement effort lasted only a few weeks, "as with all things Naveed," Hasan Haq testified in King County Superior Court in his brother's trial for the 2006 shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.

Naveed Haq is on trial for forcing his way into the federation offices and fatally shooting employee Pamela Waechter and wounding five other women on July 28, 2006. Haq, 32, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to one count of aggravated first-degree murder, five counts of attempted first-degree murder and numerous other charges, including malicious harassment — the state's hate-crime law.

If convicted of the murder charge, Haq faces life in prison without parole.

Hasan Haq described how his brother's behavior grew more and more strange in the months leading up to the shootings.

Hasan Haq also spoke of his brother's nearly lifelong discomfort with his Middle-Eastern roots. He said his brother once tried to change his name to "Nick," and said his brother was far more critical of his own family's religion than of any other.

Naveed, who is of Pakistani descent and raised in the Muslim faith, flaunted the fact that he ate pork and urged his brother to try a sausage- and meat-laden pizza, said Hasan Haq. He refused to fast during Ramadan, going into the kitchen and eating in front of the whole family while the other members were observing the religious fast.

"... He wasn't happy with his ethnicity, his name or his religion ... He said Islam does not have very good leadership and he would go on about how they were backward," Hasan testified.

The younger Haq took the stand just minutes after his mother, Nahida Haq, broke down on the stand under questioning from the prosecutor about whether her son's behavior in the period shortly before the shootings was as bizarre as it had been a year earlier when he was hospitalized after he claimed he was "stuck in the 80s".

"He's sick," she exclaimed tearfully after she was asked why she hadn't called her son's psychiatrist before the shooting. "He had a relapse. He has the mental problem. It's obvious."

She called her son a "compassionate person" and "a victim of the circumstances." She also testified that she has trouble believing that he even did the things he's accused of doing during the rampage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.

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On Wednesday, Nahida Haq told the jury that Naveed's behavior became even more troubling in the weeks leading up to the shootings. He didn't shave or change his clothes. He paced the house incessantly, his eyes bulging, she said.

"He was very sick," said a tearful Nahida Haq. "I was scared for him. He had a hollow laugh, a blank face, his body was all changed. I said something bad is going to happen. He doesn't look good to me."

According to Nahida Haq, her son had left their Tri-Cities home and gone off to college with a grade-point average of 3.8 and made the dean's list his first year.

But during his second year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., his behavior began to unravel, she said. He became too depressed to concentrate on his studies and returned home for a few months.

He then enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania's accelerated dental program, and while there became convinced that others had control of his body and were making him do things he didn't want to do, she said.

He began whispering on the phone, she said, because he was convinced people were listening in on him.

He sought help from a psychiatrist and began taking mental-health medications.

When he returned home again, his mother testified, he slept constantly, shaved his head, paced back and forth and acted impulsively.

About a year before the shootings, her son was admitted to a mental-health treatment center for 10 days after his body became stiff and he told her that he was "in a zone" and he was "stuck in the '80s."

At the center, Haq was heavily medicated, Nahida Haq testified. He returned home convinced that the drugs had killed some of his brain cells.

Haq's mother, 54, also recounted a series of jobs he held. None of the dozens of jobs, including stints in a retail store, a gas station and a security company, lasted more than a few months. One, for a telemarketing company, lasted only a few hours, she said.

"He was fired from each and every one," she said, shaking her head.

She testified that over the years her son was able to earn a degree in electrical engineering at the Washington State University campus in the Tri-Cities but was unable to find a job in his field.

The defense questioning of Nahida Haq and Hasan Haq was apparently aimed at supporting their claim that Naveed Haq was delusional and legally insane at the time of the shootings.

But under cross-examination by prosecutors, Haq's mother on Wednesday admitted he had showered and shaved the day before the shootings — despite his behavior in the days leading up to July 28, 2006.

According to police and witnesses, Haq made anti-Semitic statements before and during the slayings.

Haq's mother testified Wednesday that she had never heard her son make racist or anti-Semitic statements.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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