By LEYNA KROW
SEATTLEÂ (JTNews) — The man who shot up the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building in July 2006 was found guilty of murder in his second trial.
A jury found Naveed Haq, 34, guilty on all eight counts against him. Haq, of Pasco, Wash., will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Following nearly two months of testimony, the jury agreed with the prosecution that Haq knew full well what he was doing when he wounded six women, killing one, at the federation building 2-1/2 years ago.
Haq suffers from a bipolar disorder and his defense claimed he could not understand his actions. Haq, who has never denied committing the attack, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
In closing arguments Dec. 10, senior deputy prosecutor Erin Ehlert argued that “The fact that someone is mentally ill is not a defense in itself.”
Ehlert asked the jury members to consider the days’ worth of planning Haq appeared to have undertaken prior to the attack on July 28, 2006. Ehlert reviewed the steps Haq took to purchase firearms — including filling out paperwork and allowing for the three-day waiting period — conducting Internet research to decide on his target, obtaining maps and directions to the Jewish federation, and lying to his parents about his reasons for driving from his home in Pasco to Seattle.
“Why does he lie to his parents?” Ehlert asked. “Because he realizes that if he tells the truth, he will be stopped.”
His actions, she said, suggest that Haq was fully aware of the nature and quality of the crime he was about to commit, as well as his ability to tell the difference between right and wrong.
Ehlert replayed taped recordings of several phone conversations Haq had with his mother and other family members from jail in the weeks immediately following his arrest. The prosecution had played the tapes several weeks earlier for the jury.
This time, Ehlert highlighted sections of the conversation in which Haq’s mother insists that he must have committed the shooting because he is ill. Haq repeatedly tells his mother that he is not sick and that his actions were done purposely.
Defense attorney Christopher Swaby countered that Haq’s actions leading up to the attack, as well as his behavior after he was in jail, must be viewed in the context of his mental illness.
“He thinks that he did the right thing — that is, the inability to see right from wrong — and that is why he is not guilty by reason of insanity,” Swaby said in reference to Haq’s statements on the jailhouse tapes.
Swaby recounted the testimony of therapists and psychiatrists who worked with Haq before and after the shooting in an attempt to construct a picture of a person who had struggled with bipolar disorder and psychotic symptoms throughout his adult life and had lost control of his illness despite his best efforts to seek help.
Swaby attributed Haq’s decline both to mismanagement of his medication and a change in his insurance coverage that no longer allowed him to see counselors as often as he needed.
“The system failed,” Swaby said. “It failed Mr. Haq and then, as a result, it failed the people at the Jewish federation.”
Haq was charged with eight criminal counts, including one count of aggravated first-degree murder, five counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of unlawful imprisonment, and one count of malicious harassment.
Addressing the charges of attempted first-degree murder, Swaby argued that Haq did not go to the Jewish federation with the intent of killing anyone, but had planned only on taking hostages in order to express his frustration over the war then going on between Israel and Lebanon.
“He didn’t premeditate anyone’s death,” Swaby said.
He also countered the malicious harassment charge, claiming that Haq did not target the Jewish federation for anti-Semitic reasons.
“There is nothing to indicate that he was responding to their Jewishness,” he said of Haq’s victims.
The prosecution maintained that Haq did in fact go to the Jewish federation with the intention not only to murder but to murder Jewish people specifically. During the first weeks of the trial, prosecutors interviewed forensics specialists at length about the Internet searches Haq had done on Jewish organizations, nationally and locally, prior to the shooting, as well as the probable rationale behind Haq’s choice of guns and ammunition.
“I should make mention that the type of bullet he bought were hollow point,” senior deputy prosecutor Don Raz said at the trial’s onset. “What is unfortunate about a hollow-point bullet is the devastating injury it can cause because it transfers more of the striking power to the person it hits. He bought these bullets because he wanted to do the most damage possible.”