Ramadan Abdullah Death Penalty Trial Begins

March 26, 2008 7:53:02 PM PDT
Nearly seven years after a deputy was shot and killed, the man accused of the crime Ramadan Abdullah finally faced a jury. Abdullah, 26, is accused of shooting and killing Fresno County Deputy Erik Telen in the summer of 2001.Both the prosecution and the defense agree Abdullah killed Deputy Telen. The disagreement is why Abdullah did it. Defense attorneys believe their client was insane at the time of the crime and should avoid the death penalty.

During opening statements, Prosecutor Dennis Peterson held his arm up, pretending to display a gun. He demonstrated how an armed Telen entered a home near Dunlap in August 2001. Abdullah broke in and hid behind a cast iron stove. When Telen rounded the corner, Abdullah fired a shot gun. Telen's partner, Brent Stalker ran for cover.

Peterson told jurors, "He (Stalker) saw his partner lying on the ground. Deputy Telen had been hit in the head with a full load of double aught buckshot."

Telen died instantly, and more deputies responded to the scene. A stand off with Abdullah ensued. Hours later, he surrendered and waited to stand trial since 2001.

Abdullah's defense team agrees their client committed the crime. Defense attorney Pete Jones said, "This is not about when, or if, or how, or where or what. This case is about why?" Jones eventually wants jurors to find Abdullah not guilty by reason of insanity.

Jones said on that tragic summer day the defendant suffered from schizophrenia. He told jurors, "Ramadan Abdullah's loading and firing of fire arms in the Gregory residents on August 21, 2001 is consistent with someone who is acting under the influence of a paranoid delusion."

The first witness will take the stand Thursday morning. The trial could take up to three months to complete because there are several phases. If jurors agree with the defense then Abdullah could be sent to a mental institution for treatment. But if they disagree, the defendant could face the death penalty.


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