Testimony began Wednesday in the Little Rock, Ark. murder trial of self-proclaimed jihadist Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who is charged with shooting two people outside an Army recruiting office. Jurors heard Little Rock police officer Antonio Metcalf testify that, as he was transporting Muhammad to jail, Muhammad said that there is a war going on against Muslims.
Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe, is charged with opening fire on Army Pvt. William “Andy” Long and wounding Army Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula outside a military recruiting station there on June 1, 2009, killing Long and wounding Pvt. Ezeagwula.
In his opening statement, Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley held up a photograph of Pvt. Long as he urged jurors to remember the slain soldier. “This is why we’re here,” Jegley said. “This is a son, a brother and a friend who died fighting for the United States Army.”
Defense attorney Patrick Benca admitted that Muhammad killed Pvt. Long and wounded Pvt. Ezeagwula. He told jurors they would hear testimony from a doctor who would demonstrate that Muhammad was “delusional” when he attacked the soldiers.
Pvt. Ezeagwula testified that he and Pvt. Long had been taking a smoke break and had been outside for several minutes when before they saw a black truck pull up. Then the vehicle’s window rolled down and Ezeagwula saw a weapon and heard shots. When he saw Long fall to the ground, Ezeagwula tried to run. He was hit by shrapnel after taking two steps.
Ezeagwula, today an Army private second class stationed in Hawaii, has shrapnel in his head and walks with a slight limp. He has undergone multiple surgeries for his wounds.
Pvt. Long’s mother Janet was in the parking lot that morning, having just dropped her son off at the recruiting station. She heard the fatal shots. On the witness stand, she maintained her composure until being handed her son’s dog tags. Mrs. Long was alone at the hospital when she learned her son had succumbed to his wounds.
Testimony in the trial continues on Thursday. Read the Memphis Commercial-Appeal‘s live blog on the trial here.