SEATTLE - Jurors yesterday brought a close to a case described as Washington's worst hate crime, rejecting claims of legal insanity as they convicted a hate-spouting gunman of a deadly 2006 shooting rampage at a Seattle Jewish center.
Under the verdict, Naveed Haq, 34, who has a long history of mental illness, will spend the rest of his life in prison rather than at a state mental hospital, as his attorneys had sought.
"The jury held that holding extremist views does not make you insane, but it does make you dangerous," King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said.
On July 28, 2006, Haq held a teenage girl at gunpoint as he forced his way into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and opened fire, killing Pamela Waechter, director of the charity's annual fund-raising campaign, as she fled down a stairwell. Five women were wounded, one of them left unable to walk.
Handed a phone by a pregnant woman whom he had shot in the arm, Haq told an emergency dispatcher that he was tired of Jews, Israel, and U.S. foreign policy and wanted to get on CNN. Then he suddenly surrendered.
A jury in Haq's first trial last year deadlocked over whether to acquit him by reason of insanity. Jurors this time had the benefit of evidence not presented during the first trial, including jailhouse recordings of Haq telling his mother: "I did a very good thing. I did it for a good reason."
Victims, supporters, and members of the Jewish Federation wept, hugged, and clasped hands as King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas read the guilty verdicts on eight counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, unlawful imprisonment, and malicious harassment, the state's hate-crime law.
Haq's attorneys declined to comment. They conceded at trial that he committed the shootings and should never be free, but argued that his mental illness, described as schizoaffective disorder with bipolar tendencies, was to blame.
Victim Cheryl Stumbo heard that a verdict had been reached while she was at her doctor's office dealing with complications from a hysterectomy she underwent earlier this year to have a bullet removed. She rushed to court in time to hear the decision.
"I couldn't be happier or more grateful," Stumbo said.