Prosecutors seek death for alleged soldier killer
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Prosecutors told a judge yesterday that they will seek the death penalty for a Muslim convert who allegedly shot and killed a soldier outside an Arkansas Army recruiting center.
Abdulhakim Muhammad, 24, pleaded not guilty to the June shooting that killed Private William Andrew Long and wounded another soldier. Muhammad, who was born Carlos Bledsoe, told the Associated Press in an interview last month that he considered the shooting justified because it was in retaliation for US military action in the Middle East.
Muhammad said nothing during his brief appearance in court, standing shackled at the wrists and ankles. A Pulaski County judge set a Feb. 15 trial date.
His lawyer, Claiborne Ferguson, declined an initial mental evaluation for his client during the hearing, but told reporters afterward he didn’t know whether he’d ask for one. Ferguson wouldn’t say whether Muhammad’s phone calls to the news media would hurt his case.
“Obviously, he understands the situation that he is in and . . . I think we’ll have a good working relationship,’’ the lawyer said.
The slain soldier’s father, Daris Long, told reporters before yesterday’s hearing that he didn’t expect Muhammad to be tried quickly.
“I’ve got to figure this is going to be a long, long drawn-out thing,’’ Daris Long said.
William Andrew Long, 23, of Conway had just completed basic training and was volunteering at the suburban Little Rock recruiting office before starting an assignment in South Korea. Police say Muhammad shot Long and wounded another private outside the station June 1.