Judge declares mistrial in the case of Jewish Federation shooter
A mistrial has been declared in the trial of Jewish Federation gunman Naveed Haq.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A mistrial has been declared in the trial of Jewish Federation gunman Naveed Haq.
Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas declared the mistrial moments ago after jurors told her they were hopelessly deadlocked on 14 of 15 counts against Haq, 32.
On the only count the jury agreed on, it found Haq not guilty of one of five attempted murder charges he faced and deadlocked on a second-degree finding for the same charge. That count had to do with the shooting of federation employee Carol Goldman, one of five women wounded by the gunman.
Haq showed no emotion when the mistrial was declared.
Prosecutors immediately announced they would seek to retry Haq. A status hearing on a new trial has been scheduled for a week from tomorrow.
"We're frustrated and disappointed that we have to put the victims through this again," said Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Don Raz.
The jury was then excused by Kallas. Most jurors refused to comment to reporters.
But one juror, 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 today, the juror said "We were all very, very sad."
Cheryl Stumbo, one of the five women wounded by Haq, said she wished the jury had deliberated longer.
"I'd like to hear them explain," she said of the jury. "I know it was a hard thing to do."
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle reacted with disappointment to the mistrial.
"We're extremely disappointed in the hung jury. The emotional roller coaster the victims and our community must continue to ride is untenable," Robin Boehler, chair of the Federation's board, said in a news release.
Jurors have been deliberating 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.
Throughout the trial, Haq and his attorneys never disputed that he barged into the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on July 28, 2006, and killed one woman and wounded five others. The trial turned on whether Haq was insane at the time and thus not criminally liable for his actions.
Haq was 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.
He faced life in prison without the possibility of parole if found guilty of the murder charge. Former King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng decided not to seek the death penalty because of Haq's history of mental problems.
Haq pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all 15 counts.
The trial produced several emotional moments as victims of the shootings testified about the bedlam and horror that erupted when Haq burst into the Belltown offices and opened fire on employees.
Goldman testified said she didn't know anything was awry the afternoon of the shootings until co-worker Stumbo called out to her to dial 911. Goldman didn't get a chance.
Haq appeared at the door of her office, Goldman told jurors, holding a gun in his hand. "It was pointed directly at me," she said.
Haq fired at her knee, Goldman testified.
"I got out of my chair and dove underneath my desk, trying to get out of the line of sight," she said. "I was just trying to stay alive."
Haq then disappeared and Goldman heard a burst of shots down the hallway, she testified. "I heard one person whimpering. I heard one person screaming."
Finally, Goldman reached for the phone and dialed 911, holding a T-shirt to her gushing wound as she waited for police.
Haq's mother also testified for the defense about her family's difficulties dealing with their troubled son.
Attorneys on each side painted very different pictures of Haq. 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.
The state's evidence presented during the first half of the six-week-long trial was weighty.
Victims testified that Haq, of Pakistani descent, made anti-Semitic statements before and during the slayings. Victim Dayna Klein, who was held hostage by Haq after he shot her, testified that he spoke about Jews needing to get out of Lebanon and Iraq.
On a 911 recording played for the jury, Haq was heard saying, "I want these Jews to get out." The 911 operator told him that Klein, who was pregnant, needed an ambulance. "I don't care," the gunman said calmly. " ... just want to make a point ... all the media's being controlled by Jews. I'm sick and tired of it ... Patch me in to CNN."
Victim Christina Rexroad testified tearfully about her near-deadly encounter with Haq that afternoon. She said heard "popping" noises and walked down the hallway and saw Haq, who had forced his way into the locked building about two minutes earlier.
"He turned and looked at me. He had a gun in his hand. He shot me," said Rexroad, her voice quivering.
Prosecution witnesses also testified that Haq conducted a computer search prior to the shootings to find his intended target.
According to the testimony of a Seattle police computer-forensic specialist, Haq sat down at his laptop the day before the shooting and began entering Internet search terms. He began by Googling the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, and soon landed on the Seattle Jewish organization, eventually creating a map and directions for the 227-mile trip from his parents' home in Pasco.
The state also faced significant challenges in presenting its case. One of the biggest was a pretrial ruling by King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas that placed a detailed, 55-minute interview Haq had with police right after the shooting off-limits for evidence, because police had ignored Haq's multiple requests to speak with an attorney.
During the defense case, Haq's parents and brother testified about his years of social awkwardness and his strange behaviors in the year before the shooting — a time when his medication regimen for his bipolar disorder was altered significantly, according to testimony.
Haq's brother, Hasan Haq, told a jury about the insecurities that plagued his brother. 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, Hasan Haq said.
Haq's mother testified that in the days before the shooting Haq was upset, couldn't sleep and had strangely swollen ankles.
A former psychiatrist said Haq had a nervous breakdown, tried to jump out a window, and overdosed on Lithium twice during his college years.
Defense attorneys also faced challenges to their case. Their star witness, psychiatrist Dr. James Missett, who opined that Haq was manic and legally insane at the time of the shootings, had difficulty connecting Haq's symptoms to his own opinion of insanity on the stand.
However, evidence that Haq believed he was being driven by an outside force was presented. "It was like something had taken hold of me, some other force, on my hand, on my body, on my brain," he said during an interview with a doctor.
Missett testified that side effects from Haq's medications, including a thyroid drug and Effexor, an antidepressant, could have put him at greater risk for a psychotic break, but stopped short of attributing the shootings to them.
A not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity verdict is rare. Since the late 1990s, there have been at least six successful not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity pleas in King County murder cases:
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or email@example.com
Seattle Times staff reporters Jennifer Sullivan and Nancy Bartley contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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