Prosecutor: "We're preparing for death penalty trial"

Prosecutor: "We're preparing for death penalty trial"

Accused soldier killer Abdulhakim Muhammad wants to change his plea to guilty. In a letter obtained by FOX16 News, Muhammad highlights self-proclaimed ties to Al-Qaeda and his belief the shooting is justified.
Accused soldier killer Abdulhakim Muhammad wants to change his plea to guilty.  In a letter obtained by FOX16 News, Muhammad highlights self-proclaimed ties to Al-Qaeda and his belief the shooting is justified.

Abdulhakim Muhammad wrote the letter last week from his cell at the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility.  Prosecutor Larry Jegley says the charges against Muhammad will go to trial as a capital murder death penalty case, end of story.

In the two-page handwritten note Muhammad tells circuit judge Herb Wright he wants to plead guilty to capital murder for the shooting of Private William Long, saying "I do not wish to have a trial."

"I don't care what he says quite honestly, I care about what he did," Jegley says.

In the letter, Muhammad, 24, says "at the next hearing I look forward to pleading guilty and await sentencing."

His attorney, Claiborne Ferguson out of Memphis, says his client isn’t acting on advice he provided.

"I don't know why he would write that, it's absolutely useless,” Ferguson says.  “He can't tell the prosecutor what to do and quite frankly it's a little irritating that he would even try."
Muhammad, raised in Tennessee, is also now trying to link himself to Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula.  It’s the same group claiming responsibility for the failed bombing of a Delta flight over Detroit Christmas Day.

"I don't think the case could get any more complicated, it's just one more of the factors that we have to deal with," Ferguson says.

Muhammad maintains his attack on Long and Private Quinton Ezeagwula in Little Rock last June was "justified, according to Islamic law,” calling it "jihad."

"I really don't want to dignify it beyond saying that this defendant is not going to hijack the process," Jegley responded.

That process is moving forward to a capital murder trial this summer. 

Muhammad also told the judge in his letter he believes prosecutors lied to him when they said he couldn't plead guilty.  In fact, in a death penalty case a trial is required.  Only if the prosecution agrees to drop the death penalty does a defendant have the opportunity to plead to capital murder and receive life in prison without parole.

Muhammad has called the shootings justified retaliation for U.S. military action in the Middle East. He told The Associated Press in a telephone interview last year that he doesn't believe he's guilty.


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