Local News

Judge Sets Probable Cause Date For Taheri-azar In Quick Proceeding

Posted March 16, 2006

— Handcuffed and in shackles, Mohammed Taheri-azar shuffled into an Orange County courtroom Thursday morning.

Unlike his first court appearance, there were no smiles -- simply an appearance of contentment.

Two weeks ago, the 22-year-old native of Iran told investigators he plowed through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus and hit nine people to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world."

Thursday's court hearing was originally set to review Taheri-azar's $5.5 million bond, but the former UNC student and his attorney didn't make any request to lower it. Instead, the judge set next Friday for a probable cause hearing.

It was a quick court appearance -- less than five minutes long. Most of the people there to see it missed it, and it seems that's what court officials and law enforcement wanted.

Deputies slipped Taheri-azar in a side door and left most of the media, including national network crews, outside.

"This has gotten so much attention, and we just wanted to be able to get the defendant in and out as quickly as we could," said Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall.

Taheri-azar faces nine counts of attempted murder charges and nine counts of assault charges. In a 911 call soon after the March 3 attack, he said he wanted to "punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world."

According to court documents, he had been thinking about the attack for about two years and planning the UNC attack for two months. He was disappointed with the outcome, he told investigators.

Woodall says federal agents are still investigating the case but have not said at this point if they'll charge Taheri-azar with anything.

In recent letters to media outlets, Taheri-azar said he drew inspiration from the Quran and believes the holy book justifies his alleged actions.

But when asked by reporters Wednesday what his parents think about the allegations against him, he said, "I don't think they like what I did."

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