AZ homeless man convicted: shot official to protest her vote on

Tom Boland (
Wed, 6 May 1998 00:19:08 -0700 (PDT)

    URL also links to other stories on the case


    By Charles Kelly
    The Arizona Republic
    May 5, 1998

Larry Naman, a homeless man who fancies himself a battler against political
oppression, was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder Monday for
shooting Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox last August.

Naman, dressed as usual in faded jeans and an open-neck striped shirt,
showed little reaction as the verdict was read in Maricopa County Superior

Wilcox, too, reacted stoically, her tense expression changing little.

As the jurors filed out afterward, however, she nodded at them. Then she
leaned over a railing separating the spectator section from the well of the
court and half-hugged prosecutor David Powell.

Deliberations in the trial took a little over two days, slightly less than
the 2 1/2 days it took for the prosecution and defense to put on their

Several jurors said it took so long to reach a decision because members of
the jury panel of four men and four women were arguing about Naman's intent
in shooting Wilcox.

If they found him guilty, they had to choose between verdicts of attempted
murder and aggravated assault. Legal distinctions turned out to be
difficult to make because the jurors hadn't taken detailed notes, their
foreman said.

The verdict ended a trial punctuated by bizarre arguments from Naman, who
acted as his own attorney despite a history of mental disorders.

Naman, 50, tried to argue that he was justified in shooting Wilcox because
she voted for a county sales tax that helped build Bank One Ballpark. That
vote, in Naman's mind, was not in the public interest and thwarted the will
of the people.

At post-verdict news conference in a Maricopa County jail, Naman said he
was found guilty because he didn't get to put on his case and because the
jurors were politically unaware.

"They were otherwise excellent jurors, but all of them knew nothing about
politics," Naman said. "The trial was lost before it ever started, but I
did my part. I tried my best to restore the vote of the people."

Naman could be sentenced to as little as seven or as many as 21 years.
Judge Michael Wilkinson said.

Powell, the prosecutor, said he will consult with mental-health
professionals while deciding how long a prison term to request. If Naman's
delusional tendencies can't be treated and he is likely to remain a threat,
Powell said, he would ask for a lengthy prison term to protect the public.

At a post-verdict news conference in the county administration building,
Wilcox said the verdict supported the anti-violence campaign she has waged
through such strategies as gun buy-back programs.

She said that the shooting made her more cautious but that she's not going
to let it prevent her from carrying out the job she was elected to do.

"I resolved that I was not going to let a person who shot me get the best
of me," Wilcox said.

Wilcox praised the verdict, though she said the relatively long
deliberations made her anxious.

Tilford Creel, the jury foreman, said the verdict was particularly
difficult to reach because jurors relied too much on their memories of
testimony rather than on notes.

For that reason, the jury asked that key parts of the testimony be read
back to them Monday morning. Jurors heard again that Wilcox was wounded by
a single bullet that penetrated her buttocks, pelvis and left leg and that
Naman used a powerful .357 Magnum handgun loaded with semi-jacketed
hollowpoint cartridges, which expand on impact.

They also heard that Naman told KFYI radio that he wouldn't have minded if
Wilcox had been killed or raped for her vote on the tax issue. The rest of
the testimony dealt with Naman's account of how he stalked the supervisor.

Juror Freddie Lomax said the jurors didn't wrestle with the issue of
whether Naman was sane. In fact, they found him to be intelligent and
calculating, though "he's not quite in touch with reality as the rest of us
see it."

In the first half-hour of deliberations, the jury decided they were not
going to find Naman innocent, Lomax said. But the argument over whether to
find him guilty of attempted murder was apparently a hot one. Naman
contended he fired to wound Wilcox, not to kill her.

Juror April Stoltz said the jurors stood 6-2 for attempted murder on the
first day of deliberations but were evenly split on the second day as to
whether to go with that verdict or with aggravated assault.

Stoltz said she was for the attempted murder verdict.

"We had to prove our point to the people who didn't want it."

Lomax said re-hearing the testimony was valuable because it established
Naman's intent, which Lomax said was evident in Naman's statement that he
wouldn't have cared if Wilcox had died.

"He had complete disregard for her life," he said.

Naman, in a strange closing argument, had asked for a hung jury. As
deliberations wore on, prosecutor Powell said, he decided to ask that the
attempted murder charge be dropped if the jury appeared to be deadlocked.

When the jury rendered its verdict, Powell said, he was relieved and

Dan Patterson, a lawyer who acted as Naman's advisory counsel during the
trial, said he was disappointed in the verdict.

There was a strong case that Naman didn't try to kill Wilcox but, through
Naman's own decision, he didn't get the benefit of a veteran lawyer arguing
that case, he said.

"This was one of the most frustrating criminal cases I've ever been
involved in," he added.

[Republic writer Christina Leonard contributed to this article.]


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