A man accused of shooting four people in a downtown Church of Scientology branch, setting a fire and taking a woman hostage pleaded innocent Friday to criminal charges arising from the Sept. 25 incident.
Jairus C. Godeka, 38, pleaded innocent to 13 criminal counts.
His attorney, Kerry Chipman, said possible defenses include insanity and mind control, a suggestion that was quickly criticized by an attorney for the church.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence to show mind control,” said Elliot Abelson, a Los Angeles lawyer and general counsel for the church. “This is a sick individual, not an insane individual.”
Chipman said Godeka felt “very, very sorry” about shooting a pregnant woman but otherwise remained calm about the prospect of a trial. No date was set but Chipman expected it would be after the first of the year.
Godeka blamed the church for business problems. He was jailed briefly early this year for threatening to kill church members and demanding money.
Christina Hamilton, who was married to Godeka for several years in the 1980s, said she left him because of his drinking problem and fights.
She said Godeka mentioned Scientology about 1985, with their relationship almost over. He had gone by their downtown center, bought a few books and possibly taken a personality test.
She was angry that he had spent the money, about $200, but he never talked about it again.
Scientology spokeswoman Gail Armstrong said Godeka did buy some books but said the most he would have spent was $60. In police reports, Godeka said he only gave the church $40 one time.
“That would’ve been the long and short of it,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said that he wasn’t a member of the church and Scientology had nothing to do with his business problems.
In 1987, Godeka’s longtime friend, Ahmed Brima, took him to the North-Northeast Community Mental Health Center in Northeast Portland.
Brima was concerned about Godeka’s behavior, which included talking to the television set, hearing voices and laughing oddly.