- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2002

GRUNDY, Va. A judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation for a former law student accused of gunning down three persons during a shooting rampage at the Appalachian School of Law.
General District Judge Patrick Johnson said yesterday he would allow defense attorneys to use Dr. Seymour L. Halleck, a psychiatrist from the University of North Carolina, to examine Peter Odighizuwa, 43.
"You are certainly entitled to your expert assistance," Judge Johnson said.
Roger D. Groot, one of Mr. Odighizuwa's attorneys, said his client "shows some distorted perception of reality," citing newspaper reports and statements from Gov. Mark R. Warner's office the day after the shootings.
According to court documents filed by the defense, Virginia State Police told USA Today that Mr. Odighizuwa "had a history of mental illness." Warner spokeswoman Ellen Qualls told the Associated Press that Mr. Odighizuwa "had a history of mental instability."
Judge Johnson also informed lawyers that he had an indirect relationship with the law school, supervising mock court trials on occasion. His wife was involved in raising funds for the school.
Neither side, however, requested that Judge Johnson withdraw from the case.
As police escorted him out of the courtroom yesterday, Mr. Odighizuwa glanced at law student Cameron Udall, 30, a friend who came to the hearing. "He looks so small," said Miss Udall, sobbing into her hands.
Miss Udall said she cradled one of the wounded students in her arms the day of the shooting. Because of the slayings, she said she now favors the death penalty.
"He's not crazy," Miss Udall said. "I've had perfectly normal conversations with him."
On Jan. 16, one day after school officials told Mr. Odighizuwa they were flunking him out of school, he shot and killed Dean L. Anthony Sutin and professor Thomas Blackwell in their offices with a .38-caliber pistol, police said. He then opened fire in the school lobby, wounding three students and killing another, Angela Dales, 33, police said.
He was finally subdued by a group of students on the school's front lawn. While they held him down, several heard Mr. Odighizuwa say, "I have nowhere to go."
Mr. Odighizuwa, a Nigerian immigrant, has been described by classmates as aloof and prone to vulgar outbursts.
He was arrested Aug. 15 on charges he beat his wife, according to court records. Town police said Mr. Odighizuwa also would regularly show up at the sheriff's office, worrying about intruders breaking into his home. He would return on occasion and nitpick over the wording on the police reports he filed.
When police escorted him into court for his initial appearance in January, Mr. Odighizuwa shouted to reporters: "I was sick, I was sick. I need help." He also has complained to police about not receiving his medication.
Mr. Groot would not say what kind of medication Mr. Odighizuwa was taking.
Authorities have charged him with three counts of capital murder, three counts of attempted capital murder and six weapons charges. Prosecutor Sheila Tolliver said she will seek the death penalty.


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