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Trial begins for driver in three-county hit-and-run rampage

Posted February 22, 2010

— The man charged in a 2004 hit-and-run spree was suffering from "untreated schizophrenia" at the time of the crimes, defense attorneys said on Monday.

Abdullah El-Amin Shareef, 31, of Raeford, is charged with murder and four counts of attempted murder in the case. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.

Shareef has undergone mental health treatment since his arrest, and entered an insanity plea in 2008.

During opening statements on Monday, defense attorney Carl Ivarsson said his client suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Toward the end of 2003, Ivarsson said his client's behavior became "stranger and stranger."

Assistant District Attorney Cal Colyer said Shareef knew what he was doing when he "went on a murderous rampage" on the morning of April 14, 2004. Authorities said he stole a city-owned van in Fayetteville and headed north. He hit and injured three men in Fayetteville, then ran over Lonel Bass in Linden, killing him, authorities said.

Abdullah El-Amin Shareef, hit-and-run rampage suspect Testimony begins in hit-and-run rampage

Shareef abandoned the van, took Bass' pickup truck and continued north, authorities said, running down another man in Harnett County before crashing the truck in Fuquay-Varina, where he was arrested.

"The defendant literally mowed down people in this community who were minding their own business," Colyer said in his opening statement.

Shareef made a series of bad decisions, “but during those bad decisions, he was aware of what he was doing," Colyer said.

The first person Shareef is accused of hitting in the incident is 71-year-old David McCaskill, who testified on Monday that he was out walking his two dogs when a van hit him.

"I got the dogs out of the way, but I couldn't quite make it," McCaskill said. "He knocked me down and apparently my feet went in the air and my right foot came back down in the road and he ran over it with the back tire."

After the van stopped, he said the driver of the van attacked him with a pencil. "I said, 'Why are you trying to kill me?'" he said.

McCaskill was stabbed in the head. "I started bleeding. He stabbed me, trying to get my eye," he said.

During the attack, the man said nothing and left when a neighbor walked outside, McCaskill said.

Ivarsson told jurors that a doctor will testify that Shareef  "was one of the most psychotic people that he had ever seen."

Last month, Superior Court Judge E. Lynn Johnson ruled that Shareef was competent to stand trial after reading a letter from a state psychiatrist at Central Regional Hospital in Raleigh, where Shareef has been held.

A psychiatrist hired by Shareef's lawyers agreed with the state's findings. Doctors for both sides warned there was a risk Shareef's condition could deteriorate if he did not continue to get the level of care he needed.

Shareef’s trial had been postponed because he was considered unable to understand court proceedings. Court officials say medication has allowed Shareef to become competent to stand trial.

The trial is expected to resume Tuesday morning.


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  • danielle3018 Feb 23, 2010

    it makes me sick how people think they can just murder innocent people for no reason and think they can get away with it by pleading insane get over it im so sick of hearing ohh they were mentally unstable thats why these people lose there lives. im sure this animal was well aware of what he was doing

  • daMoFo Feb 23, 2010

    One f the guys he ran over is a friend of mine. After running him over, he backed up and ran over him again. My friend still spends much of his time in a wheel chair. Give this criminal the death penalty.

  • bluedogs1 Feb 23, 2010

    i knew Lonel personally and he didnt deserve this,,just out minding his own business and had his life taken,,, AN EYE FOR AN EYE,,(dropping the mic)

  • anneonymousone Feb 22, 2010

    The Assistant DA said "he was aware of what he was doing," but many people here show a lack of understanding. Awareness is not the same thing as soun decision-making or the ability to control oneself.

    Mental illness is not related to intelligence or morality; it's brain chemistry, folks. Someone who loses control of a vehicle when he or she goes into a diabetic coma and kills someone doesn't merit the death penalty, nor does the man in this case, if indeed he had untreated, undiagnosed mental illness.

    For everyone's sake, I do think it's just to consider a way of monitoring whether people deemed to be of danger to themselves or others are on their medications.

  • makeitright Feb 22, 2010

    and this is still breathing Why? 6 years to figure this out? This system stinks

  • jhudson014 Feb 22, 2010

    I hear there is a cure for his mental illness/drug addiction. I believe "lethal injection" would cure what ills him and he will not be a menice to society anymore. Lets keep in mind he didn't kill or injury one of his crack head friends. He actually hunted down innocent people that were minding there own business for his cruel actions. Dawn shame tax payers have to pay for defense and 3 hots and a cot.

  • mulecitybabe Feb 22, 2010

    Does anybody know where Michael Hayes is these days? Last I heard he's out of the hospital and living it up in the community. How many did he kill?

    But the sad thing is that people like Hayes get over on the system, and the truly mentally ill are stuck in legal limbo. The laws related to the mentally ill need to be completely revised. Most of them go back to the days when there was no real treatment except "the asylum." It's time to see that severe and chronic mental illness is with us, not going anywhere, but if the dangerously sick decide not to seek treatment there is no law to compel them to do so. That's when we wind up with a guy like this. So sad.

  • tatermommy52 Feb 22, 2010

    Well certainy passes the "I look like I belong on death row" test.

  • OSX Feb 22, 2010

    I hope they kill him. The old I was sick then but now I am better defense. Glad your better but it doesn't undue what you did.

  • Dark_Horse Feb 22, 2010

    He may be competent now, but was he at the time the crimes were committed? Its ironic that by getting well, he will be signing his own life away.