A King County jury this morning found Naveed Haq guilty of aggravated murder in the 2006 shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.
A King County jury this morning found Naveed Haq guilty of eight counts, including aggravated first-degree murder, in the 2006 shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. The murder verdict carries an automatic life sentence for Haq.
The jury also found Haq, 34, guilty of five counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of unlawful imprisonment and one count of malicious harassment, the state’s hate-crime law.
Haq showed no reaction as the verdicts were read, but several people in the courtroom tearfully hugged.
The jury had been weighing eight criminal counts against Haq since Thursday after seven weeks of testimony. This was Haq’s second trial on the shootings. His first trial ended in a mistrial.
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“We are grateful that justice for this heinous hate crime has finally been served,” Richard Fruchter, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation, said in a statement issued after the verdicts were announced. “Our hearts go out to the survivors of this shooting and their families, who bravely endured not only the shooting but two trials.”
Several of the victims were seated in the courtroom this morning as the verdicts were read. They testified during both trials, reliving what happened when Haq walked into the federation offices on July 28, 2006, and started shooting indiscriminately at employees. Killed was Pamela Waechter, 58, and wounded were Cheryl Stumbo, Carol Goldman, Dayna Klein, Christina Rexroad and Layla Bush.
Prosecutors said he was driven by a hatred for Israel.
One of the jurors, John Bennett, 60, of Carnation, said he watched the victims as the verdicts were read.
“I had to feel good there was a closing for them,” he said.
During a news conference after the verdicts were announced, Goldman said Waechter “finally got the justice she deserved.”
Erin Ehlert, senior deputy prosecutor, also spoke on behalf of the victims. “I feel a lot of finality for a lot of people … a calming peace that the right thing was done.”
“I’m happy it’s over,” added Seattle police Detective Dana Duffy, who helped investigate the shootings. “I’m happy with the verdict.”
Haq’s first trial ended in a mistrial in June 2008, when jurors announced after nearly two weeks of deliberations that they were deadlocked on all but one of the 15 criminal counts. Prosecutors immediately announced they would retry Haq. Prosecutors reduced the number of charges to simplify deliberations for jurors in the second trial. They eliminated seven of the charges from Haq’s case, including one count of first-degree burglary, five counts of malicious harassment and one count of kidnapping.
The second jury deliberated on eight counts — 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, the state’s hate-crime law.
The focus of the second trial was Haq’s mental state at the time of the attack. The defense did not dispute that Haq carried out the shootings, but argued that he was legally insane at the time.
Haq pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and the defense produced several mental-health experts who testified that he was mentally ill. Defense attorneys had asked that Haq be sent to a state mental hospital rather than prison.
Prosecutors agreed that Haq has a mental illness, but contended that he was sane when he entered the federation and opened fire.
“He wanted to kill these women,” Ehlert, the prosecutor, told the jury during her closing argument on Thursday. “He knew exactly what his intent was when he walked in there. He planned this.”
Bennett, the juror, said the jury approached the case with an open mind. He said jurors were “waiting for someone to tell us [Haq] was insane, and we never saw it.”
Bennett said he wished that Haq had testified.
The defense declined to comment after the verdict.
Prosecutors also introduced as evidence audio recordings from 10 phone calls Haq placed to his family after his arrest. In the calls, recorded by the King County Jail, Haq told his mother he was “a soldier of Islam.”
The recordings were not introduced during Haq’s first trial.
The guilty verdict to aggravated murder means Haq will be imprisoned for life without parole.
Witnesses testified that Haq, who is of Pakistani heritage, railed against Jews and U.S.-Israeli policies as he opened fire in the Jewish Federation, an umbrella organization for the local Jewish community that raises money for social-welfare organizations, runs youth and adult educational programs, and engages in efforts in support of Israel.
Haq surrendered after talking with a 911 dispatcher.
On the 911 tape, which the prosecution played for jurors on Oct. 21, the opening day of the trial, Haq said he was tired of the world ignoring the Muslim point of view.
“I don’t care if I die,” Haq said to the dispatcher. “This is just to make a point.”
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com