Jury convicts suspect in hit-and-run rampage
Posted March 17, 2010 12:32 p.m. EDT
Updated March 17, 2010 6:00 p.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — After four days of deliberation, a Cumberland County jury found hit-and-run rampage suspect Abdullah El-Amin Shareef guilty of 10 charges, including first-degree murder and attempted murder, for a hit-and-run rampage that encompassed parts of three counties in 2004.
Shareef, 31, of Raeford, will be sentenced on Thursday. He faces the death penalty.
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.
Jurors found Shareef guilty of the first-degree murder of Bass. He was found guilty of the attempted first-degree murders of McCaskill and Weller.
Shareef was found guilty of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury stemming from his attacks against McCaskill and Weller.
Jurors found Shareef guilty of misdemeanor assault with deadly weapon against Fortier, but not guilty of the attempted first-degree murder of Fortier.
In addition to the murder and assault convictions, Shareef was also found guilty of two counts of felony possession of a stolen vehicle and felonious larceny.
Shareef showed little reaction when the verdict was read. Victims and their family members hugged and cried following the verdict.
Shareef pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorneys have said he suffered from untreated paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the crimes.
Psychologists who evaluated Shareef shortly after the incident testified during the three-week trial that he was psychotic.
But prosecutors argued that Shareef made "conscious decisions" during the incident, running down men who were by themselves and then fleeing to avoid arrest.
Shareef's family and friends say the jury’s decision ignored testimony from mental health professionals like Rashad Rahmaan.
Rahmaan, a friend of Shareef's family, testified during the trial that he tried to get Shareef evaluated at a mental health facility in Hoke County, but the rampage occurred while Shareef was waiting for his appointment.
Rahmaan said the conviction should bring condemnation for the state's mental health system.
“Yeah, he’s guilty, he did that. I’m not saying he didn’t do that,” Rahmaan said. “I feel sorry for the families that were affected by this. Personally, I’m more disappointed in the mental health system.”
Authorities said Shareef will likely not be tried for the attempted murder of Thompson. The offense occurred in Harnett County.
"They made the right decision . It's been so long. I'm OK, but this has been so hard on the others, especially the Bass family. This couldn't have happened to sweeter people," Thompson said Wednesday after the verdict delivered.