By CHUCK BARTELS
Associated Press Writer
LITTLE ROCK — A man who claims he was justified in killing a soldier at a recruiting office because the U.S. is fighting against Muslims has been scheduled for a mental evaluation Monday.
Abdulhakim Muhammad, who faces capital murder and other charges, had a brief status hearing Wednesday. He was brought in separate from the other prisoners due in court and remained chained at the ankles and wrists. He stood with two guards behind him as Circuit Judge Herb Wright conducted the hearing.
Prosecutors said there was no single reason for conducting the mental evaluation, which will be done at the state hospital.
“It’s typical for this type of case,” Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson said.
Muhammad didn’t speak during the hearing. He told the AP in phone calls from jail last year that he felt killing American soldiers is morally justified.
His defense attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, said he’s been working on the case but didn’t go into detail during the hearing.
Prosecutors spent time before and after the hearing with relatives of Pvt. William Long, 23, of Conway, who was killed in the June 1, 2009, attack. Another soldier, Pvt. Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville, was wounded.
Little Rock police pulled Muhammad over on an interstate near downtown shortly after the shooting. He had been under investigation by an FBI-led anti-terrorism task force since he returned to the U.S. from a trip to Yemen in 2008.
Muhammad, who changed his name from Carlos Bledsoe after he converted to Islam, moved to Little Rock in the spring of 2009 after his father expanded his tour bus company from Memphis, Tenn., into Little Rock.
The next status conference is set for Aug. 17, and Wright said he wanted to set a trial date as soon as possible after the mental evaluation results came back.
Prosecutors said they are eager to start the trial too.
“I just want, for (Long’s) family, to move along as quickly as possible,” Johnson said.