Arkansas “Jihadist” Case Ends with Sudden Plea Deal

The defense had begun to lay its case earlier this week for Carlos Bledsoe, otherwise known as Abdulhakim Muhammad, accused of murdering a Soldier in an attack on a recruiting center in Arkansas.

The case was suddenly halted earlier this week when Muhammad agreed to a plea deal — guilty, life without parole.

Muhammad’s lawyer had originally told the jury their job was easy:  His client did it.

“This isn’t about whodunit or who didn’t do it,” said Patrick Benca, a lawyer for Abdulhakim Muhammad. “Mr. Muhammad was the one that had his finger on the trigger.”

The prosecution used that to their advantage: 

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday after playing video of Muhammad confessing to the shootings, which he said were retribution for U.S. military action in the Middle East.

Muhammad is a self-proclaimed “jihadist” who had sought a federal terrorism trial as a platform for his politics.  At the same time, it appears he was denied an opportunity to plead guilty:

Muhammad tried to plead guilty in the case, but prosecutors would have had to withdraw the death penalty as a possible sentence. A defendant can’t enter a guilty plea in Arkansas if he could be sentenced to execution.

According to the Associated Press, his lawyer said he became “delusional” after watching a video (not unlike the description of the attack in Germany).  His conduct to date has apparently been such he has been wearing an “electrified belt” in the courtroom.

Muhammad has been wearing an electrified belt in court, with a uniformed bailiff sitting behind him with a remote-control button like the ones used to buzz in on game shows. Deputies fitted him with the belt after he acted up in a number of hearings before the trial started and was accused of attacking a jailer. Jurors can’t see the belt beneath Muhammad’s clothing.