Local News

UNC 'Pit' Attack Suspect Lashes out in Court

Posted March 5, 2007 7:32 a.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2007 6:29 p.m. EST

— A man accused of driving a sport utility vehicle through a crowd of students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be placed at Dorothea Dix Hospital after he made disparaging remarks in court Monday.

During the hearing, Mohammed Taheri-azar, 23, yelled that he "hates all Americans" and "hates all Jews."

Taheri-azar then looked at Superior Court Judge Ken Titus and asked him what his name was and then asked him to spell it. Taheri-azar then looked at his attorney and said, "I don't know him."

Taheri-azar also called his attorney "a moron" and said "hasta luego," before he was removed from the courtroom.

Titus ordered that Taheri-azar be sent to the hospital to determine whether he is competent to stand trial. That evaluation could take anywhere from 28 to 60 days.

"I think that the behavior you witnessed was the behavior of a severely disturbed and mentally ill person," said James Williams, Taheri-Azar's attorney.

Taheri-Azar was seen making obscene gestures and yelling profanities before entering the Orange County Courthouse. He was supposed to appear before the judge regarding letters he wrote within the past two weeks to Judge Carl Fox.

The content of the dozen letters is not known, and the judge ordered them sealed.

Authorities said Taheri-azar, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, admitted to driving his vehicle into nine people on the campus in a gathering area known as "The Pit" on March 3, 2006. No one was seriously injured. Taheri-azar said he did it to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.

In January, Taheri-azar pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges. He was scheduled to go to court later in this month to begin pre-trial motions.

Before being taken to Dorothea Dix, Taheri-azar was being held at Central Prison in Raleigh under a $5.5 million bond.