Defense attorneys for accused Jewish Federation shooter Naveed Haq made an unsuccessful attempt to delay his second trial because of recent publicity surrounding the escape of a mentally ill patient from Eastern State Hospital.
On Wednesday, defense attorney Christopher Swaby argued in court that the escape last month of schizophrenic killer Phillip Arnold Paul could prejudice jurors against Haq, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas ruled against Swaby and said that the trial will go on as scheduled.
A jury is being selected for the 34-year-old man’s second Superior Court trial, with opening statements slated for Oct 20. Haq, whose first trial ended in a mistrial last year, is accused of barging into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on July 28, 2006, and killing one woman and wounding five others.
Haq’s attorneys are asking that he be sent to Western State Hospital instead of prison.
In court, Haq’s lawyers asked for the trial to be continued until the furor over Paul’s escape and a second escape from Western State can blow over – making it easier to find a “untainted” jury, Swaby said.
Swaby cited the results of some of the 400 questionnaires recently filled out by prospective jurors as an indicator of people’s feelings toward mentally ill defendants. “Mr. Haq already faced a difficult task of finding a jury of people who could be open to the possibility of his defense,” Swaby wrote. “Now, even those people who appeared to be impartial on this topic will likely have been negatively influenced by the image of a crazed killer on the loose from a supposedly secure facility.”
Swaby was referring to the media coverage of Paul, a patient at Eastern State Hospital, who vanished during a hospital-sanctioned field trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Sept. 17. He was arrested three days later. Three days before Paul escaped, a 33-year-old man who was being held in the high-security criminal forensics facility at Western State also escaped. He was caught after two hours.