- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Soldier killer pleads guilty, avoids death penalty with a deal
Sentenced to life without any hope of parole
Question of the Day
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A man who killed one Arkansas soldier and wounded another - an act he called retribution for the deaths of Muslims abroad - took an unexpected plea deal Monday that abruptly ended his murder trial and spared him the death penalty.
Abdulhakim Muhammad had proclaimed repeatedly that he drove up to a Little Rock, Ark., recruiting station, drew an assault rifle and fired on the two soldiers. On Monday, Muhammad stood before Pulaski County Judge Herbert Wright and once more admitted to committing the crime.
Judge Wright then sentenced Muhammad to life in prison without parole for capital murder, with 11 more life sentences on the remaining charges and an additional 180 years in prison. The families of slain Pvt. William Andrew Long and wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula sat in the courtroom.
But in exchange for Muhammad’s plea, prosecutors could not pursue the death penalty, the primary reason they wanted a trial.
Arkansas law requires a defendant to be tried if lethal injection is a sentencing option, and prosecutors sought the death penalty for the capital murder charge. Muhammad tried to plead guilty before the trial but was refused.
The sixth day of the trial was delayed Monday morning as lawyers on both sides huddled about a deal. Prosecutors said it was the first time Muhammad’s attorneys had approached them with a plea deal in writing.
After receiving the offer, prosecutors pulled Long’s family out of the courtroom to discuss the deal.
Muhammad, 26, re-entered the courtroom about 1 p.m. Monday. The jury had been dismissed. His family, along with the families of his victims, had entered the courtroom to watch.
Two armed sheriff’s deputies stood behind Muhammad for the first time during the trial as Judge Wright read the charges against him: capital murder, attempted capital murder and 10 gun-related counts. Muhammad stood without handcuffs or shackles.
“Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?” Judge Wright asked.
“Yes,” Muhammad replied.
Family members of the soldiers spoke after prosecutors accepted the plea.
Long’s father, Daris, described the pain he still felt. “I may appear normal on the outside, but inside, I’m screaming,” he said.
Pvt. Ezeagwula’s mother, Sonja Ezeagwula, looked directly at Muhammad’s family members, who had entered the courtroom to watch the plea. “I am so sorry for the choice that your son decided to make,” she said. She wiped her nose with a tissue as she returned to her seat.
Muhammad’s family left shortly afterward without speaking to reporters.
TWT Video Picks
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- EPSTEIN: All IRS roads lead to the archivist
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- KUHNER: Will Russia-Ukraine be Europe's next war?
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq