The big question prosecutors and defense attorneys must now deal with is this: What happens next?
Immediately following King County Superior Court Judge Paris K. Kallas’ declaration of a mistrial on June 4, county prosecutor Daniel Satterberg vowed to retry Jewish Federation shooter Naveed Haq. The jury, after previously giving hints that they may not be able to come to a verdict, 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 killed Pamela Waechter and injured six women.
After six weeks of testimony from the prosecution’s 32 witnesses and the defense’s 16, a packed Seattle courtroom watched as jurors gave up trying to reach a verdict 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, researched Jewish organizations on the Internet, chose the Federation as his target, got directions from MapQuest to its front door, and drove 227 miles from his home in Eastern Washington to Seattle, stopping to test-fire the handguns along the way. Once there, he 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 trial, 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.
Attorneys from both sides were expected to meet June 12, after JTNews went to press, to set a new trial date.
Richard Fruchter, the Federation’s CEO, expressed disappointment at the jury’s inability to reach a verdict.
“We are extremely disappointed in this hung jury,” he said. “He made anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements, but somehow this was not enough.”
“We’re extremely disappointed in the hung jury. The emotional roller coaster the victims and our community must continue to ride is untenable,” the Federation’s board chair, Robin Boehler, said in a statement.
During deliberations, the six men and six women on the jury told the judge that they didn’t understand the legal meaning of concepts like “right from wrong” and whether Haq knew the “nature and quality” of his acts.
Prosecution witness Dr. Robert Wheeler had 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 term “nature and quality,” Wheeler testified, “is when he acts with an objective or purpose to accomplish a result that constitutes a crime.”
To determine whether he understood right from 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 to 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 on 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.
A week after the declaration, the victims of the shooting had varying feelings about the mistrial.
Goldman, the one survivor for which the jury actually settled a charge, was philosophical.
“I’ve tried not to let this put my life on hold,” she said. “I’ve tried to move on with my life as best I can, with getting back into work, with volunteering.”
Goldman’s volunteer work includes the Harborview Trauma Center, where all of the victims were taken immediately after the shootings, and the ICU Guild.
“The guy’s guilty. He premeditated. He may be mentally ill, but he’s very sane,” said. “I don’t feel like [the jury] stepped up and really did their job. They just got stuck and emotional and didn’t move on and do what they needed to do.”
Stumbo added that had Washington State law kept guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, there would have been no need for a trial.
“Why wasn’t he on some list that said ‘No, this man should not be armed?’” she asked. “A gun just multiplies the speed of how fast you can hurt people, and he never should have had it in the first place. It was all meaningless. It never would have happened. It just infuriates me. What kind of lunatics do we have in our legislature that think it’s more important for dangerous people to be allowed to access guns than it is for the right of regular everyday taxpaying citizens to work in a safe environment? Which trumps which?”