Criminal proceedings were suspended again against suspected Fresno crime spree shooter Kori Ali Muhammad after his attorney on Thursday called into question Muhammad’s mental competency to face murder charges in connection with a deadly rampage near downtown Fresno that killed three people on April 18.
It was the second time the issue of Muhammad’s mental health has been raised by defense attorney Eric Christensen in Fresno County Superior Court. At a brief hearing last Friday, where Muhammad faced a murder charge in connection with the April 13 shooting death of a motel security guard, Christensen questioned Muhammad’s mental health and Judge W. Kent Hamlin suspended criminal proceedings.
Because Muhammad, 39, now has two criminal cases, Hamlin delayed Muhammad’s arraignment to May 12 on both. The judge also said psychologist Dr. Richard Kendall has been assigned to examine Muhammad.
Until his arraignment, Muhammad will be held without bail, Hamlin said.
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At the start of the hearing, Hamlin denied a media request to photograph Muhammad. Hamlin was concerned that pretrial publicity could prevent Muhammad or the prosecution from getting a fair trial in Fresno County.
Like he did in his court appearance last Friday, Muhammad entered the courtroom wearing shackles and a yellow jail jumpsuit and surrounded by sheriff’s bailiffs. Yellow jumpsuits are reserved for combative or high-risk inmates.
He again yelled “Let black people go” and “reparations.” He also said “America must do right by black people” or it will be destroyed by plague, natural disasters and freak accidents.
Hamlin quickly tired of Muhammad’s rants and told him to be quiet: “Sir, this is a court proceeding.” Muhammad then kept quiet for the rest of the hearing.
Afterward, Christensen said there’s no doubt Muhammad is mentally ill. “Based on our conversation with him and all the other factors, including his behavior in court, there are significant mental issues,” Christensen said.
In a phone call Wednesday to The Bee from Fresno County Jail, Muhammad admitted to last week’s killings.
A criminal complaint filed Wednesday charged him with three counts of murder in connection with the shooting rampage that killed Zackary David Randalls, 34, of Clovis; Mark James Gassett, 37, of Fresno; and David Martin Jackson, 58, of Fresno. The complaint also accuses Muhammad of attempted murder of three other men, and special circumstances that could result in the death penalty. The District Attorney’s office said no decision has been made whether to pursue death or life without parole.
Another complaint charges Muhammad with murder in the April 13 shooting death of security guard Carl Allen Williams III at Motel 6 on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno.
Randalls’ family issued a statement late Wednesday, hours after charges were filed, thanking the Fresno County District Attorney and the Fresno Police Department “for their dedication to justice. They speak for us and all the other victims of this terrible crime. We appreciate them, and the entire community for their support.”