Local News

Psychologist: Hit-and-run suspect did not recall crimes

Posted March 8, 2010

— A psychologist testified Monday that a man accused in a 2004 hit-and-run rampage across three counties could not recall the crimes the day after the rampage.

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

Psychologist details meeting with hit-and-run suspect Psychologist details meeting with hit-and-run suspect

Authorities said Shareef stole a city-owned van in Fayetteville on April 14, 2004, hit and injured three men in Fayetteville, then ran over Lonel Bass in Linden, killing him. 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.

Shareef has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his attorneys said he suffered from untreated paranoid schizophrenia.

Thomas Harbin, a psychologist in private practice in Fayetteville, testified Monday that he evaluated Shareef the day after the incident and found him to be unable to recall what happened. “However many times I asked him that, he said he didn’t remember,” Harbin said.

Harbin did four evaluations on Shareef between April 2004 and January 2009. He said Shareef suffered from schizophrenia on the day of the rampage. The disease "destroys a person's mind," he said.

"Their personal hygiene gets real bad. They won't bathe anymore. They won't take care of their appearance," he said.

Schizophrenia can lead people to do psychotic things, Harbin said.

"You got a guy running around in his underwear and starting randomly running over people – that looks crazy," he said.

Harbin added that Shareef did not meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Harbin said in his first mental assessment tests, Shareef tried to make himself look good – which worked against an insanity defense. “Trying to make yourself look unrealistically virtuous … is actually working against his best interest in an insanity defense,” he said.

Dr. George Corvin, a general and forensic psychiatrist in Raleigh, also testified on Monday. Corvin evaluated Shareef at Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh two days after the rampage.

Corvin said it is "unusual for someone to be admitted to Dorothea Dix" just two days after an offense. It usually takes weeks or longer for them to be admitted, he said.

During the evaluation, Shareef appeared to be in a catatonic state, Corvin said. “Abdullah Shareef made no utterance at all during the course of the assessment,” he said.

Shareef smelled bad and appeared to have urine stains on his pants, he said.

Corvin said Shareef “was in the top 10 psychotic individuals I have seen in my career.”

During an April 22 evaluation, Corvin said, Shareef was not responsive to any of his questions and was mumbling. “He still had a vacant stare,” he said.

It's rare to see someone in such a catatonic state, Corvin said. “You don’t see that degree of psychosis commonly anymore in this country because of the availability of treatment,” he said.

The defense plans to wrap up its case on Tuesday, attorneys said.


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  • walkindogs Mar 9, 2010

    Oh my here we go, another loose cannon gone bypolar...

  • OSX Mar 9, 2010

    OH you silly people !!!!! This guy will be back driving a van on our streets in less than 2 years. What you folks don't understand is that he is BETTER now. Another John Edwards lawyer working his magic.

  • foxhunter Mar 9, 2010

    guess you don't remember what you've done when you're high...get high, kill somebody, plead insanity. seen it over and over. It's time to stop the insanity!

  • dwntwnboy Mar 9, 2010

    Well, if he's that out of it, he won't notice the needle being put in his arm or the cage they will keep him in.

  • demo7691 Mar 8, 2010

    Reguardless he did it and he is no good to society

  • carolinejosh Mar 8, 2010

    Commonsensical - you hit the nail on the head. Inadequate resources in the mental health system further exacerbate the dangerous dilemna. So-called "outpatient commitments" are virtually meaningless. As is so often the case, the pendulum has swung way too far. Concern for individual liberties must be balanced against the risks to society of untreated severe mental illness. I have committed thousands of people to psychiatric hospitals in the course of my career. The most shocking lessons to me were (1) the prevalance of severe mental illness in society and (2) the disastrous repercussions. I had absolutely no idea how often untreated mental illness leads to assaultive or murderous conduct. How many more people must die before reform is instituted?

  • just trying Mar 8, 2010

    It's important to remember catatonic and amnesia are in no way the same thing. In front of a mental professional you cannot fake being catatonic. You must assume that you must be insane to do what he did. That being said he needs to be locked up forever or executed.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 8, 2010

    I do not care. Remove this guy from the planet immediately.

  • commonsensical Mar 8, 2010

    This seems to be a catch-22. Mental patients have the right to refuse to be medicated, but then when they harm others they can take the 'insanity' defense. I say that mental patients should be incarcerated if they refuse to be medicated, and that medication administration for potentially harmful patients should be strictly monitored.

  • Just the facts mam Mar 8, 2010

    Just because you say you do not remember doing something does not mean you did not do it.