Criminal proceedings remained suspended Thursday against accused Fresno rampage killer Kori Ali Muhammad after a court-appointed doctor said he was legally incompetent to stand trial.
In response to the doctor’s finding, prosecutor Brian Hutchins told Superior Court Judge Brian Alvarez that the District Attorney's Office plans to hire another doctor to get a second opinion about Muhammad's mental state.
Hutchins said he hopes to have second opinion by July 7, when both sides will return to court for a status hearing.
With a bailiff standing behind him, Muhammad remained quiet throughout the proceedings. But once the brief hearing was over, Muhammad blurted out: “Let black people go. Reparations.” He also said “natural disasters will increase.”
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Outside court, Muhammad's lawyer, Richard Beshwate Jr., said his client was found legally incompetent because he has a history of schizophrenia.
Muhammad, 39, is charged with the murders of Mark Gassett, David Jackson and Zackary Randalls, and the attempted murders of Stephen Walter, Michael Flores and Mark Greer in an April 18 shooting spree near downtown Fresno. He also is charged with special circumstances that could make him eligible for the death penalty – committing multiple murders and selecting his victims based on race.
Muhammad also is charged with murder in the April 13 shooting death of security guard Carl Allen Williams III at Motel 6 on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno.
After the killing spree, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Muhammad confessed to killing all four victims. Dyer also said Muhammad targeted the victims because they were white.
Criminal proceedings have been suspended since April 21, when Muhammad made his first appearance in Fresno County Superior Court. Since then, a court-appointed psychologist, Dr. Richard Kendall, has examined Muhammad in the Fresno County Jail, where he is being held without bail.
During Friday’s hearing, Alvarez accepted Kendall’s report, which is confidential. Afterward, Beshwate declined to talk about the report, other than to say that Muhammad has a documented history of schizophrenia and has been receiving medicine in the jail. Beshwate, who is white, also said he and Muhammad have a good relationship.
Muhammad, who grew up in southwest Fresno, has many aliases, including Kori McWallace, Kori Taylor, Cory Allen Taylor and Cory Allen Muhammad. As a teenager, he said he became a Muslim and a disciple of Wallace Fard Muhammad, co-founder of the Nation of Islam.
His mental illness is mentioned in court documents in connection with his 2004 arrest on drugs and firearm offenses in southwest Fresno.
During court proceedings in U.S. District Court in Fresno, Muhammad’s behavior was described by his federal public defender as “eccentric with some bizarre beliefs,” prompting the lawyer to inform the court that Muhammad suffered from “auditory hallucinations.”
Defense attorney Eric Kersten also noted at least two prior mental health hospitalizations for Muhammad, court records say. “While Mr. Muhammad does understand basic legal concepts such as who and what the judge and jury are, and their respective roles, due to his paranoia he views the system, including defense counsel, as conspiring against him.”
In court papers, Hutchins said Muhammad is a danger to the public because after he was read his Miranda rights, he described in great detail his shooting spree and told police that he shot the victims because they were white: “I did it. I shot ‘em,” Muhammad said, according to Hutchins’ motion to deny bail for Muhammad.
Muhammad said “he wanted to kill as many white men as I can,” the motion said. He also said he went on a shooting rampage because he didn’t want to be arrested for killing a single security guard, Hutchins wrote in his motion.
In a telephone call to The Bee on April 26, Muhammad admitted to the killings. But he also said he suffers schizophrenia and said his killing spree was to bring attention to America's history of white people buying slaves, mistreating them and lynching them. He contends white people still kidnap, rape and murder black people, including women and children.
But according to Muhammad, the killing of Williams, the security guard at Motel 6, had nothing to do with the color of his skin. Muhammad said he went to the motel with a friend because she was having difficulties. He said he planned to perform black magic and voodoo on her. He said his goal of helping his friend ended when Williams and another security officer told them he had to pay an extra fee to stay in the room.
According to Muhammad, Williams cursed him and disrespected him. “So I shot him,” he said. “It had nothing to do with his race. I'm not even sure if Williams is white. He looked Hispanic to me.”