"Magical thinking" and presidential perplexity from racist killing spree suspect

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The man suspected of a racist killing spree and four murders in Fresno last year is now in trial. (KFSN)

The man suspected of a racist killing spree and four murders in Fresno last year is now in trial to determine whether he should go to a mental hospital before facing a criminal trial.

Carl Williams, Zackary Randalls, David Jackson, and Mark Gassett were all gunned down in April 2017.

The first witness was a psychiatrist who said Kori Muhammad needs intense mental treatment, basing his diagnosis on magical thinking and irrational thoughts during an interview in July.

The defendant had just one courtroom outburst Wednesday as he tried to explain one of his perplexing answers, about who the president is.
When Fresno police arrested the killing spree suspect in April, they say he understood his crimes and apologized.

Three months later, Dr. Howard Terrell interviewed him and found him capable of answering basic, neutral questions. He gave his correct name and his age as 39.

But then he displayed a psychotic disorder, according to Dr. Terrell.

The suspect said he had spent 39 years on earth, but he was really 65 trillion years old.

"He told me he has seven children on earth plus one million children in the center of the earth," Dr. Terrell said. "That's very psychotic. That's very irrational."

The defendant has documented mental health issues dating back to 1998, but five years ago a doctor diagnosed him as malingering -- meaning he was faking it or exaggerating his problems.

Prosecutor Brian Hutchins suggested that may have been in play when the topic turned to politics.

"When I asked him the name of the current president of the United States, he replied 'the Koch brothers,'" Dr. Terrell said.

"Is that that he doesn't know who the president is or he's simply, for lack of a better term, messing around with you during the interview?" Hutchins asked.

"Those are the people that run the country," the suspect interjected.

That was the defendant's one interruption Wednesday and Dr. Terrell says he understands the basics of the court process - like the function of the attorneys and the judge and the fact that he could potentially face the death penalty if he's convicted.

But he also told the doctor he is capable of creating plagues, tornadoes, heat waves and demonic possessions.

"'I kill with my mind all the time,'" Dr. Terrell said the defendant told him. "So this is what we call 'magical thinking' that he has some sort of magical powers to use his mind to kill other people."
Dr. Terrell diagnosed him with schizoaffective disorder, among other issues, and said he's not capable of assisting his attorney.

The trial resumes next week with testimony from two more doctors, including one who disagrees.

Related Topics:
deadly shootingFresno County
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