Local News

Raeford Man To Plead Insanity In Driving Rampage

Posted May 9, 2006

— A man accused of running down five people in stolen vehicles -- killing one of them -- will plead not guilty by reason of insanity, his lawyers said.

The state plans to seek the death penalty for Abdullah El-Amin Shareef of Raeford, prosecutor Cal Colyer said during a hearing Monday in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Some of the victims and their relatives attended Monday's hearing. Most declined to comment. David McCaskill, whose leg was shattered when a van ran over him, said he is glad the state will seek execution.

Shareef is accused of running over pedestrians in a three-county rampage in April 2004. He is charged with murder and four counts of attempted murder.

Shareef was found to be competent to stand trial last month after spending two years in treatment at the Dorothea Dix state psychiatric hospital in Raleigh, said George Franks, one of Shareef's lawyers.

"He's been in treatment for two years," Franks said. "Dorthea Dix is actually a very good mental hospital."

Franks said he is not yet allowed to make public the mental illness afflicting Shareef. Franks said he did not know the specifics of Shareef's treatment except that he took medication.

Police said Shareef stole a city-owned van in Fayetteville and drove north. He hit and injured three men in Fayetteville, then ran over Lonel Bass in Linden, killing him.

Shareef abandoned the van, took Bass' pick-up truck and continued north, police said. He used it to run down another man in Harnett County. Shareef was captured after he crashed the truck in Fuquay-Varina in Wake County.

Shareef's family said in 2004 that he has a history of mental illness.

At the time of the rampage, Shareef was a suspect in a fire that took his mother's life in December 2003, police said. The fire may have been intentionally set and started in an enclosed carport where Shareef had been a short time earlier, police said. Officers who tried to talk to Shareef found him rambling and "off the wall."

The suspect's father said Shareef was admitted to Dix as a patient for three days after that.

Franks said the case will go to trial no sooner than 2007.

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