Questions to Judge Paris Kallas mean jurors still mulling murder charge in Haq case
Jurors weighing the fate of Jewish Federation shooter Naveed Haq may be having a difficult time reaching a unanimous verdict. On Wednesday, the third...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jurors weighing the fate of Jewish Federation shooter Naveed Haq may be having a difficult time reaching a unanimous verdict.
On Wednesday, the third day of deliberations, jurors sent two questions to Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas that indicated they were still mulling the first of 15 criminal counts against Haq.
In a note sent from the jury room, jurors asked the judge in the event they failed to reach a unanimous verdict on count one — aggravated first-degree murder or, alternately, second-degree murder — should they move on to count two, which is the first of five counts of attempted murder.
Kallas agreed with prosecutors, who asked her not to give an answer. Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Don Raz argued that telling the jurors to move on to count two might give the impression that they have spent enough time considering the first count.
"Given the length of the trial, the complexity of the issues, it would be too early to poll them," said Kallas, referring to the juror questioning undertaken after a jury announces it has either reached an impasse or arrived at a verdict.
Jurors also asked Kallas whether they could consider the 15 counts against Haq in any order they chose. The judge said they could, telling them simply to continue their deliberations in the order they see fit.
The jury has been deliberating since Friday morning. The question posed indicates the jury was not close on Wednesday to reaching a unanimous verdict on the aggravated murder charge — the only count that could bring about a mandatory life sentence in the event of a conviction.
Haq has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and if the jury deems him insane, he will be committed to a state mental hospital indefinitely.
Much of what the jurors are mulling centers on Haq's mental state — and therefore his guilt or innocence — when he barged into the Belltown offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on July 28, 2006, and shot six employees, killing one.
The fact that jurors said they were still discussing count one could indicate that it may be some time before they reach a verdict or declare themselves at an impasse. If jurors are unable to agree unanimously on one or more count, it could lead to a mistrial and a retrial.
They are sorting through two very different pictures of Haq painted during the trial: one, by prosecutors, of 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 and anti-Semitic thoughts playing through his mind.
Haq's defense team portrayed him as a man who suffered through an abusive childhood and increasingly paranoid teenage and college years, loathed his short stature and Muslim heritage and whose body and mind were reeling from a dangerous regimen of prescription medications when he entered a manic state and heard God telling him to go on a mission.
Haq, 32, is charged with one count of aggravated first-degree murder for slaying employee Pamela 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.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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