The Binghamton University graduate student accused of killing a professor last December by stabbing him multiple times with a knife was suffering from a longstanding mental illness, according to court documents filed by his attorney.
Abdulsalam al-Zahrani, 46, stabbed Richard Antoun, an emeritus professor of anthropology, on Dec. 4 in Science Building 1 on the Binghamton University campus. He was indicted Jan. 22 by a grand jury on one felony count of second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty.
Psychiatric evidence will show al-Zahrani lacked substantial capacity to know or appreciate the nature and consequences of his conduct, New York City-based defense attorney Frederica Miller wrote in documents filed July 21 in Broome County Court.
"The defendant was psychotic and suffering from a longstanding major mental illness, schizoaffective disorder," Miller wrote in the notice of intent to use psychiatric evidence.
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental condition that causes a loss of contact with reality and mood problems, according to health-related websites.
Reached Monday, Miller wouldn't comment further. Al-Zahrani's other attorney, Vincent Accardi of Binghamton, could not be reached Monday. Al-Zahrani's legal expenses are being paid by the Saudi Consulate.
According to court records, evidence will include testimony from the defense's medical experts, Steven Simring and Charles Patrick Ewing.
Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen said the prosecution would have its own doctors examine al-Zahrani. That process is under way, he said.
There is a pre-trial conference Friday to discuss scheduling in the case, Mollen said. No trial date has been set.
Al-Zahrani was a doctoral student in BU's anthropology department. Antoun, 77, an expert on Middle Eastern cultures, had published several well-known works, including a book about fundamentalism in Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Mollen has said the killing was not related to Antoun's expertise in the Middle East.
In previous interviews, al-Zahrani's roommates described him as confrontational and argumentative in the days before the stabbing. Fellow graduate students also said he complained he was losing financing for his doctoral project in anthropology.
Al-Zahrani remains in the Broome County Jail without bail. A conviction on the second-degree murder charge would carry a minimum sentence of 15 years to life and a maximum of 25 years to life, under New York statutes.