Local News

'Pit' Attack Suspect to Get Mental Exam

Posted February 22, 2008 2:31 p.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2008 2:56 p.m. EST

— Another psychiatric evaluation was ordered Friday for the man charged with driving an SUV into a crowd on the University of North Carolina campus two years ago.

Mohammed Taheri-azar is charged with nine counts of attempted murder and nine counts of felonious assault in connection with the March 3, 2006, incident at "The Pit," a popular student hangout on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, in which nine students were injured.

Taheri-azar surrendered shortly after the incident and told police that he wanted to harm Americans in response to U.S. attacks on Muslims overseas. The UNC graduate has since waffled between expressing remorse for the incident and anger.

A psychiatrist at Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh examined Taheri-azar last year after a courtroom outburst in which Taheri-azar yelled that he hated all Americans and Jews and called his court-appointed attorney a moron.

The psychiatrist ruled at the time that Taheri-azar was competent to stand trial.

The evaluation ordered Friday by Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour is needed because defense attorneys have indicated they plan to argue insanity, diminished capacity or other mental health issues at trial.

A trial has been scheduled for March 31, but it's unclear whether the need for a mental exam will push that back.