Appeals Court Upholds Conviction of Jewish Federation Gunman

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee January 30, 2012

An appeals court has upheld the conviction of Jewish Federation gunman Naveed Haq, who claimed his civil rights were violated during his trial.

On July 27, 2006, Haq walked into the Jewish Federation offices in Belltown with two pistols in a laptop bag, and demanded to see the center's manager.

When the manager came out to meet Haq, he began shooting, killing one woman and wounding five others. Haq called 911, reported he had hostages, and told a 911 operator he wanted to talk to the media to "make a point" about US foreign policy in Iraq and Israel. He surrendered to police after they told him they couldn't put him on CNN.

During Haq's first trial in 2008, Haq's attorneys claimed he was insane, citing Haq's previous treatment for bipolar disorder. The case ended in a mistrial, but prosecutors retried the case, and a jury convicted Haq on aggravated murder, attempted murder, unlawful imprisonment, and malicious harassment charges. The judge sentenced Haq to life in prison.

Haq appealed his case, claiming, among other things, that prosecutors improperly used recordings of incriminating jail phone calls during his trial, in which Haq told his mother "I did the right thing," "I got the Jews" and "I'm proud of what I did," throwing some water on his attorneys' claims that he was legally insane and unable to make the distinction between right and wrong.

Today, a state appeals court rejected Haq's claim, noting that Haq and his relatives knew their jailhouse conversations were being recorded, and that inmates have a "reduced expectation of privacy." The appeal decision also includes this awesome quote explaining why the court rejected Haq's claim that it was up to prosecutors to prove he wasn't crazy: "The law presumes a man sane and possessed of his reasoning faculties until the contrary is proved."
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