FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Jurors in Fayetteville began deliberating Monday afternoon on whether issue a death sentence to a man convicted of running over five people, killing one, during a 2004 hit-and-run rampage.
The jury heard closing arguments earlier Monday.
Jurors found Abdullah El-Amin Shareef, 31, of Raeford, guilty of 10 charges Wednesday, including one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder, in the rampage that stretched across three counties.
Authorities said Shareef stole a city-owned van in Fayetteville on April 14, 2004, hit and injured three men – Robert Fortier, David McCaskill and Gary Weller – 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 Seth Thompson in Harnett County before crashing the truck in Fuquay-Varina, where he was arrested.
Shareef pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his attorneys argued that he suffered from untreated paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the crimes.
The state argued that Shareef made "conscious decisions" during the incident, running down men who were by themselves and then fleeing to avoid arrest.
On Thursday, Talethia Shareef pleaded for her husband’s life, saying he was "a good person" before mental illness changed him.
"I just pray that you can have it in your heart to understand that he was not like this," she said, choking back tears. "This was not him, and I'm sorry."