SEATTLE -- A Muslim man accused of killing a woman and wounding five other people in a shooting rampage at Seattle's Jewish Federation offices wants to plead guilty, his lawyer told a judge yesterday.
The judge put off the arraignment of Naveed Afzal Haq until Tuesday so Haq's lawyer could determine whether his client is competent to enter the plea.
Haq, 30, ``is indicating that it is his desire to enter guilty pleas," defense attorney C. Wesley Richards said.
Haq, an American-born son of Pakistani immigrants, is accused of forcing his way into the charity's offices and opening fire July 28 out of anger over the war in Iraq and US support of Israel. In the course of the attack, he declared, ``I am a Muslim American." Pamela Waechter, director of the Jewish charity's annual fundraising campaign, was killed.
Haq is jailed without bail on charges that include murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
Volunteers from the Jewish Federation quietly watched the proceedings in the heavily guarded courtroom. The courthouse has metal detectors at its entrance, but spectators at Haq's hearing had to pass through a metal detector outside the courtroom.
King County Superior Court Judge Michael Trickey yesterday granted a prosecution request to bar Haq from having contact with the shooting survivors or volunteers and employees of the Jewish Federation.
In addition to murder and attempted murder , Haq is charged with first-degree kidnapping, involving a girl allegedly taken hostage; first-degree burglary, for allegedly entering a locked facility to commit a crime; and malicious harassment under the state's hate-crime law.
Trickey, along with the defense and prosecution lawyers, expressed uncertainty about the legal implications of a guilty plea, especially to a charge that could bring the death penalty.
Trickey asked the lawyers to research the issue and send him briefs by today outlining the case history and addressing whether Haq could even plead guilty to the most serious charge against him, aggravated murder.
King County prosecutor Norm Maleng has not decided whether to seek the death penalty
Robin Boehler, chairwoman of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, said she was surprised by Haq's attempted plea. ``I think it's significant he was willing to admit in court he committed these crimes," she told The Seattle Times.
Boehler said there will be a representative of the Jewish community at each of Haq's court appearances.
``We want to be there to remind people this is not just about Mr. Haq, but about the people he attacked," Boehler said.
Material from The Seattle Times was included in this report.