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9/11 aftermath: Man admits shooting
Sikh gas station owner in US
T V Parasuram in Washington |
June 17, 2003 23:33 IST
A US citizen accused of shooting a Sikh gas station owner in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks has admitted to the crime.
Defence attorney Dan Patterson conceded in court on Monday that his client Frank Roque shot Balbir Singh Sodhi (49) and committed drive-by shootings at a Lebanese-owned gas station and an Iraqi man's home as well.
Roque (43) is accused of gunning down Sodhi in retaliation for the terrorist attacks mistaking him to be an Arab because of his beard and turban.
According to police reports, Roque declared at the time of his arrest, "I am a patriot" and said he was "standing up for his brothers and sisters in New York."
Patterson told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Aceto that Roque was consumed by anger after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
If successful, Patterson's defence would spare Roque the death penalty that is sought by the prosecutors.
Paterson wrote in a March 2002 motion that Roque has been diagnosed as schizophrenic.
However, Roque was found competent to stand trial in June 2002.
Phoenix-based Rana Singh Sodhi, one of the victim's brothers, said he is pleased Roque is admitting the slaying but does not buy the defence.
Roque, said Rana Singh Sodhi, acted with premeditation, visiting the gas station before Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down to make sure the victim was working.
The judge said Roque's trial would continue till June 30 to accommodate expert witnesses who are expected to testify.