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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Remember Naveed Haq?

posted by on June 4 at 11:05 AM

The guy who wounded five and killed one when he opened fire at the Jewish Federation in Seattle?


The jury can’t decide whether Haq is guilty or insane. They’ve been deliberating for eight days and are deadlocked on 14 out of 15 counts, which include aggravated murder, attempted murder, and hate crimes.

I imagine them having the same debates Josh Feit and I had, sitting in his apartment, writing this feature about Haq just after the shootings.

We’d visited W. Renner, a melancholy guy who lived in this Everett apartment building with Haq:


Even Renner, Haq’s roommate, couldn’t decide whether Haq was crazy.

Haq did a lot of grousing about Israel, but he had also left Islam, converted to Christianity, left Christianity, kept getting fired from jobs, had anger management problems, behaved bizarrely (shouting at people, bringing hookers back to his and Renner’s one-bedroom apartment to screw in the bathroom), and was arrested for lewd conduct after allegedly exposing himself to ladies at a mall while high on meth.

After a few hours of deliberation on a deadline, Feit and I decided Haq was more crazy than jihadi:

While Haq’s violence exploded inside a political context—the Jewish Federation, Israel’s war in Lebanon—his motivations were those of a frustrated man, who, according to Renner, didn’t fit in anywhere and felt persecuted and embarrassed by his parents’ Pakistani background. Haq is not a jihadi, nor a radical Islamist; his anti-Semitic rhetoric seems more like a veneer of politics on a man disturbed by feelings of inadequacy and rejection.

I wonder whether the jury—after a six-week trial, piles of evidence, and days of deliberation—will come to the same conclusion.

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The criteria for insanity aren't whether he is a jihadi because he is a fanatic Moslem or he is a jihadi because he felt inadequate. The criterion isn't whether he was a jihadi at all, or why he was acting like a jihadi. It doesn't matter whether he really hates Jews or just uses that as a "political veneer."

The question is whether he was capable of judging right from wrong at the time of the crime. That's the only issue at this point.

Posted by elenchos | June 4, 2008 11:15 AM

It sounds like the jury has a pretty confused and ineffective foreperson. Many of the questions they send to the judge and attorneys are sent back with "Uh... look at the material we've already given you." And then the jury shoots back with "What do 'right' and 'wrong' mean, technically?" Give me a break.

Hopefully, they'll pull themselves out of this spiral and come back with a verdict. It's testing my faith in the justice system.

Posted by James | June 4, 2008 11:23 AM

Having served on a jury in King County, I reserved judgement. With local juries, it's pretty much pot luck as to what they'll focus on, and whether or not justice will be the end result.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 11:30 AM

"The jury this morning asked Kallas for further definition of the words "nature" and "quality.""

Kinda makes you lose a bit of faith in the entire idea of having a jury, if they're that bloody thick.

Posted by Bek | June 4, 2008 11:33 AM

@2 I've served on two juries and in both cases we found ourselves asking similar questions of the judge. It may seem obvious what "right and wrong" mean, but when you're limited to only the evidence presented at trial and the judge's instructions to the jury, deciding what the legal definitions of seemingly simple terms gets complicated fast. It could be the foreman is doing a bad job, but it is just as likely that the jury is wrestling with whether the prosecution has proven their case "beyond a reasonable doubt" which is a whole lot harder when you're determining guilt or innocence in the real world and not just watching it on TV.

Posted by Westside forever | June 4, 2008 11:34 AM

@3 and 5:

I've never served on a jury (King County or otherwise), so I have little perspective there. But, I've been bothering every attorney I know since this news broke days ago about a possible deadlocked jury, and they've all immediately asked some variant of, "What the hell is their foreperson doing?" Particularly in deciding how to progress through the list of charges. I can imagine that it's easy to get bogged down in legal definitions, but that's when it's time to pull back, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture here.

Plus, to me, the answer is so bleeding obvious that a mushroom could understand it.

Posted by James | June 4, 2008 11:48 AM

Guilty: Q-Did he do it? A-yes

What verdict will gaurantee this douche will spend the rest of his worthless life in a small cage? That's the verdict I'd go with.

Posted by yucca flower | June 4, 2008 11:58 AM

"his motivations were those of a frustrated man who...felt persecuted and embarrassed" does not equal crazy. it equals angry man who blames others for his problems and had the gall to act on it.

your interpretation of his motives leaves him neither mentally disturbed nor jihadi, but a dick whose problems would have been better solved by growing a pair and entering adult human society.

Posted by dbell | June 4, 2008 12:12 PM

Why can't someone be guilty and insane?

Posted by elswinger | June 4, 2008 12:14 PM

My experience on a jury demonstrated to me that just one person can make a difference, can either inject common sense and reason into the discussion or do exactly the opposite. This may not even be the fault of the foreperson. I'm imagining just one nitpicky juror who derails the whole process by trying to parse out the difference between right and wrong.

I almost served on another jury last year. There was one fellow juror who would not shut the fuck up during voir dire. It was a slam dunk case, but I bet that one juror would've kept us deliberating for days.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 4, 2008 12:23 PM

@ 8: We aren't doctors and we can't pronounce a man insane. But we can have opinions about whether he was primarily motivated by politics or a disturbed psyche.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | June 4, 2008 12:26 PM

@11 I totally agree re: opinions; I was just noting that your block quote doesn't fully support the premise (insane rather than jihadi) of the preceding sentence. i.e. both crazy and non-crazy people commit murder based on feelings of inadequacy.

Posted by dbell | June 4, 2008 12:49 PM

Sanity? Who cares? Off the no good mutherfucker! He's a filthy vermin.

Posted by Vince | June 4, 2008 2:40 PM

The foreperson on a jury is usually the person with an axe to grind who hasn't made the mistake of letting everyone know they have an axe to grind ...

Someone always obsesses about notes, someone always obsesses about the meaning of words, and the instructions and what you're told frequently are very very misleading - resulting in juries doing things people on the outside think are dumb, but made sense to the group of people not given all the facts and told to ignore certain things, led by somebody who wants to force a conclusion one way or another.

I was one of 2 people who objected to the decision of my jury. If it had been a murder trial and they might be innocent, I'd be the guy saying No to the death sentence when they hadn't met the test of the law.

They frequently get rid of any lawyers who might know anything in the jury pool, FWIW.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 2:48 PM

Well, it's done for now. The judge just declared a mistrial.

For God's sake, Seattle, can't you do ANYTHING right?

Posted by James | June 4, 2008 3:50 PM

After living in Seattle for the past quarter century, I must admit that this town is one of the most passive-aggressive, racist, anti-Jew, oil-whoring god-damn shit holes on the planet.

May the whole stinking berg rot in hell, if this murdering MF is allowed to walk free. Ship of fools.

Posted by Dave Brown | June 6, 2008 8:00 PM

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