King County Prosecutor Daniel Satterberg vowed to retry Jewish Federation shooter Naveed Haq after the jury said they were unable to agree on all but one of the 15 counts of murder and attempted murder in the July 2006 shooting spree that seriously injured six women, killing one.
After six weeks of testimony from 32 witnesses for the prosecution and 16 for the defense, a packed Seattle courtroom watched on June 4 as jurors gave up after eight days of deliberation.
“Substantial justice cannot be done,” Judge Paris K. Kallas told the court. “There is no reasonable probability of the jury reaching an agreement. I declare a mistrial.”
Nearly two years ago, the then 30-year-old Haq bought two guns and a military knife 12 days before the shooting, researched Jewish organizations via the Internet, chose the Federation, drove 227 miles from his home in Eastern Washington to Seattle, stopped to test-fire the handguns along the way, kidnapped a 14-year-old girl to gain entrance into the building, and began shooting as he reached the Federation’s second floor reception area.
In a press conference following the trail, Satterberg told reporters that the mistrial would not seriously harm the prosecution’s core arguments and emphasized his continued commitment to the case.
“The attack by Naveed Haq upon the women inside the offices of the Jewish Federation remains one of the most serious crimes ever committed in this city,” Satterberg said.
After the shooting, Haq was eventually coaxed into a conversation with 911 operators by Dayna Klein, a pregnant woman that he would have shot in the stomach had she not instinctively raised her arm to protect her unborn child. The wound she received has left her without the use of her arm today.
“He said nothing,” Klien testified during the trial. “He shot at his first opportunity. He was aiming for me and I put my arm in front of my abdomen.”
He surrendered to police without further incident and complied with directions from police while in custody, officers testified in court.
Richard Fruchter, CEO for the Federation expressed disappointment at the jury’s inability to reach a verdict on all but one of the 15 counts against Haq.
“We are extremely disappointed in this hung jury,” He said. “He made anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements, but somehow this was not enough.”
During deliberations, the six men and six women on the jury told the judge they didn’t understand the legal meaning of concepts like “right-from-wrong” and whether Haq knew the “nature and quality” of his acts.
It was prosecution witness Dr. Robert Wheeler who defined these terms for the jury under direct questioning from Prosecutor Donald Raz. The jurors had his testimony available to them but still could not agree.
The terms “nature and quality,” testified Wheeler, “is when he acts with an objective or purpose to accomplish a result that constitutes a crime.”
To determine whether he understood right and wrong, Wheeler said, one must ask, “Was he capable of understanding the consequences of his actions? Can they perceive risks to themselves and to others? Did he know where he was, who he was, and what he was doing at the time? Could he follow directions?”
In total, jurors made five requests from Judge Kallas during their deliberations.
However, none of the requests for clarifying language or a review of the 20-minute surveillance video from security cameras at the Jewish Federation recorded the afternoon of the shooting led to further agreement on the jury’s part. After eight days they remained deadlocked.
Initially, Haq was charged with nine felonies, including aggravated first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder, all with the use of a firearm. Other charges included kidnapping and burglary for taking Kelsey Burkum hostage and unlawfully entering the Federation building.
Haq was also charged with malicious harassment under the state’s hate-crime law.
Jurors found Haq not guilty of first-degree attempted murder for the shooting of Carol Goldman. However, Haq will be charged with second-degree attempted murder on that count in the next trial.
According to doctors who treated him for a decade, Haq suffers from Bipolar 1 disorder with psychotic features including schizoaffective disorder, delusions, hallucinations and depression.
Once a promising student at the University of Pennsylvania, and possessing two degrees – one in biology and one in electrical engineering – Haq became withdrawn and moody shortly after enrolling in graduate school, according to the medical experts.
The defense’s central medical expert, Dr. James Missett, a Yale-trained addiction and forensic psychiatrist, told the court that Haq was and is severely mentally ill and was exhibiting both manic and aggressive behaviors as well as deep depression on the day of the shootings.
However, Haq’s two treating counselors who evaluated him three days before the shootings testified that he was having no side effects from his medications and seemed to be feeling good. He was even looking for work, they said.
Haq was on six different prescription drugs for his mental disorders including Lamictal, Depikote, Resperitol, Welbutrin, Lithium, and Synthroid.
The drugs were supposed to quell the symptoms from his diagnosed Bipolar 1 disorder and manage the psychotic features associated with his unique, self-reported symptoms.
Defense attorneys had hoped to convince a King County jury that the combination of drugs was toxic and that the change from Lithium to Effexor, before the shootings occurred, induced side effects that caused him to attack the women at the federation that day.
Two of the shooting victims, Cheryl Stumbo and Carol Goldman, who were in court nearly every day, voiced disappointment and shock at the verdict but said they would be back and ready to go when the next trial starts.
“I’m ashamed that I live in a society where the seriously and chronically mentally ill can legally purchase handguns,” Stumbo said in her remarks after the mistrial. “How can it not be obvious to our elected representatives that the right to live and work in a safe environment trumps the right of dangerous people to buy and use deadly weapons?”
A status hearing to select a new trial date is scheduled for June 12. Satterberg said he hopes to try this case again in six months.