Ramadan Abdullah Convicted of Murder

September 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Seven years after he shot and killed a Fresno County Sheriff's deputy, a judge convicted Ramadan Abdullah of murder. Abdullah will likely spend the rest of his in prison.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Abdullah is now convicted of first degree murder plus special circumstances. At one point the prosecutor wanted to seek the death penalty. That threat was withdrawn and Abdullah's main defense was also dropped so this case could finally end.

Fresno County Judge Ralph Nunez said in court on Friday as he read the verdict, "A felony was committed by Ramadan Abdur-Rauf Abdullah who unlawfully and with malice aforethought murdered Erik Telen, a human being. The court finds Mr. Abdullah: guilty."

It's unknown if Abdullah actually understands what happened Friday morning. All sides agree, Abdullah suffers from a severe mental illness. His defense team admitted Abdullah shot and killed Deputy Erik Telen in 2001 near the town of Dunlap. Defense Attorney Pete Jones believed during the murder his client was insane. Jones hoped for a second degree murder convicted. Jones said, "We felt the mental defense we raised clearly raises a reasonable doubt as to the degree."

Abdullah's first trial ended in April with a hung jury. Immediately afterwards, the district attorney's office announced a full retrial with the death penalty as an option. But that changed after major developments last week. The DA's office dropped the death penalty. At the same time, Abdullah's attorneys stopped the insanity defense and allowed a judge to render a verdict. A decision that means Abdullah will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutor Dennis Peterson said, "Erik Telen, I hope we've honored his memory appropriately. That's the greatest satisfaction I get from the case is that I hope justice has been served."

Abdullah left the court room without saying a word and now awaiting his punishment. Abdullah will automatically be sentenced to life in prison because he was convicted of first degree murder plus special circumstances. A judge is expected to hand down that decision in October.

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