Twenty-one years ago, John Hadad shot his wife, Bahie, three times in the head, killing her in the shower of their northwest Fresno home.
Hadad was charged with murder, but a Superior Court jury found him guilty of manslaughter after they learned Hadad suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was hearing voices. Instead of going to prison, he went to a state hospital after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
This week, Hadad, now 63, returned to Fresno County Superior Court to ask a new panel of jurors to free him from the hospital. But after deliberating about one hour, the jury on Thursday voted unanimously to keep him confined in the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk.
Hadad had nearly completed the maximum sentence allowed by law for someone convicted of manslaughter. He was scheduled to be released from the hospital on Nov. 12 unless the jury granted the prosecution’s petition to civilly commit him to the hospital for another two years.
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I shot her.
John Hadad told police
During the two-day trial, prosecutor Christopher Gularte implored the jury to keep Hadad in the hospital, saying Hadad still poses a danger to the public. A key prosecution witness, Dr. Dmitriy Sherman, who has treated Hadad for the past five years, testified that Hadad believes he is the son of God and has telepathic abilities to communicate with his friends in Syria and Europe from his hospital room.
Sherman also told the jury that Hadad would pose a threat to community if left in an unsupervised setting.
In his testimony, Hadad denied being a threat to the public, but said he still hears voices. If released from the hospital, he promised to take his medication and seek help if his mental condition deteriorates.
His lawyer, Avery Meyer, also told the jury that Hadad has never committed an act of violence since his conviction two decades ago, and has no problems taking his medication in the hospital.
It is unclear when Hadad was first diagnosed with mental illness.
Before the killing of his wife, neighbors said the couple argued all the time, but the quarrels never ended in physical violence.
Then, during the early hours of Feb. 9, 1996, neighbors heard gunshots coming from the Hadad home on the 1100 block of West Athens Avenue, a quiet neighborhood near Palm and Herndon avenues. When officers arrived , Hadad was standing at the front door, holding a handgun, officer Victor Barrios, a 32-year-veteran, testified Wednesday.
“I shot her,” Hadad said, according to Barrios.
Inside, they found Bahie Hadad, who would have been 32 on Feb. 25, dead in the master bathroom. An autopsy revealed she was shot three times in the head and once in the wrist.
Hadad and his wife were married 14 years and had four children.
The killing happened during the early hours of Feb. 9, 1996 at the Hadad home on the 1100 block of West Athens Avenue near Palm and Herndon avenues
A booking photograph of the dark-haired Hadad shows him unshaven and with his eyes wide open. Now he has gray hair and wears glasses. He needed an interpreter who speaks Arabic to translate his testimony.
“I feel bad. I was very scared. I am very sad,” Hadad told the jury about killing his wife. He said he shot his wife because he believed his wife was poisoning his food and abusing their children.
Back then, Hadad said, “I was hearing voices that don’t exist.” Nowadays, he said, the voices don’t come as frequently because of the medicine he takes. But when the voices come, he said he copes with them by taking a long walk, relaxing in bed or listening to music.
But Sherman testified that Hadad is stubborn and reluctant to get medical help. “He does not refuse medication, but sometimes believes the medication is not good for him,” Sherman told the jury.
He said the hospital had to get a court order to force Hadad to take care of his prostate cancer and glaucoma. Treating glaucoma is done with eye drops, Sherman said. But Hadad refused to take the treatment and purposely put the drops on his cheeks, the doctor said.
Hadad’s mental illness “prevents him from processing information and forming a long-term plan for treatment,” Sherman said.