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Prosecutors seek death for alleged soldier killer

Prosecutors seek death for alleged soldier killer

Prosecutors told a judge Friday they'll 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 outside the center that killed Pvt. William Andrew Long and wounded another soldier. Muhammad, who was born Carlos Bledsoe, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview last month that he considered the shooting justified because it was in retaliation for U.S. military action in the Middle East.
Muhammad said nothing during his brief appearance in court, standing handcuffed 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 calls to the AP 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 Friday'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," Long said.
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 who were smoking cigarettes outside of the station June 1. Police arrested Muhammad a short time later and recovered an assault rifle and two other weapons in the vehicle.
Since his arrest, Muhammad has called the AP bureau in Little Rock, saying he claimed responsibility for the shooting.
"Yes, I did tell the police upon my arrest that this was an act of retaliation, and not a reaction on the soldiers personally," Muhammad said.
Muhammad converted to Islam and traveled to Yemen in September 2007. Immigration officials there arrested him in November 2008 after he overstayed his visa and had a fake Somali passport.
His previous defense lawyer, Jim Hensley, said Muhammad traveled to Yemen and became radicalized after being tortured in a prison there. The Yemen Embassy and Muhammad both denied the torture claim.


Updated : 2021-10-17 03:28 GMT+08:00