Man convicted in shootings at Seattle Jewish center

Mcclatchy Newspapers

A King County jury on Tuesday found Naveed Haq guilty of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2006 shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, a verdict that carries an automatic life sentence.

After hearing seven weeks of testimony, the jury also found Haq 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 opened fire in the center’s offices, killing Pamela Waechter, 58. Several of the shooting victims who were in the courtroom hugged tearfully when the verdicts were announced.

In 2008, Haq’s first trial ended in a mistrial when jurors deadlocked on all but one of 15 criminal counts. Prosecutors announced they would retry him, and they reduced the number of charges to simplify deliberations.

The focus of the second trial was Haq’s mental state at the time of the attack. The defense did not dispute that he carried out the shootings, but it argued he was legally insane at the time and should be sent to a state mental hospital rather than prison.

Prosecutors agreed that Haq had a mental illness, but contended he was sane when he entered the federation and opened fire on the six women.

“He wanted to kill these women,” senior deputy prosecutor Erin Ehlert said during her closing argument last week.

Prosecutors had introduced as evidence recordings from 10 phone calls Haq, 34, placed to his family after his arrest. In them, Haq told his mother he was “a soldier of Islam.” The recordings were not introduced during the first trial.

Witnesses also testified that Haq, who is of Pakistani descent, had railed against Jews and U.S. and Israeli policies as he opened fire. He surrendered after talking with a 911 dispatcher.

On the 911 tape, which the prosecution played for jurors, 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.”