Life sentence for shooting at Jewish charity

/ Source: The Associated Press

A judge sentenced a 34-year-old man to life in prison without possibility of release Thursday for killing a woman and injuring five other people in a 2006 rampage at a U.S. Jewish charity.

Naveed Haq and his father appealed to the judge for forgiveness before the sentence was pronounced. Haq said he thanked God every day more people were not killed and said poorly prescribed psychiatric drugs made him violent.

He had been found guilty in December of aggravated murder and attempted murder.

The shooting has been described as Washington state's worst hate crime.

Haq, the son of Pakistani immigrants, held a teenager at gunpoint as he forced his way into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle in July 2006. He opened fire, killing fundraising director Pamela Waechter as she tried to flee and wounding five others.

Before surrendering, Haq ranted against Jews and said he wanted to be on CNN.

The defense said mental illness was to blame. But prosecutors said that even though he was ill, he knew what he was doing. They cited his meticulous planning, including writing material criticizing Israel and using MapQuest to find directions to the center from his family's home in Pasco, 180 miles away.

Judge Paris Kallas heard Thursday from victims and their supporters, including Waechter's daughter, Nicole Waechter. She said her mother would have wanted her friends and family to move on and keep laughing.

Haq's first trial ended in 2008 with the jury deadlocked over whether he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.