“We’re very, very proud to say she is back full duty representing the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Representing us again,” Sheriff Larry Sims said before expressing his feelings about the verdict, 10 months after the incident.
“It was a relief,” he added. “We as an agency feel that they came to a good conclusion, the right conclusion.”
Laghaoui was convicted on charges ranging from aggravated attempted murder to domestic violence, but not of firing into a habitation.
The verdict ended an eight-day trial that included testimony from more than 20 witnesses and introduction of more than 200 pieces of evidence.
Deliberations began Tuesday after the jury heard two different versions of what happened on June 9 outside the apartment building at 8525 Jonathan Lane in the Landen area of Deerfield Twp., Warren County.
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There was no dispute that Barnes and Laghaoui’s father, Abdessadek, were wounded, or that Laghaoui shot at a neighbor before disappearing for nearly seven hours.
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It was the first time the county’s emergency management services sent out messages, much like for Amber Alerts, warning people in the area to shelter in place due to the active-shooter situation.
“It is very, very scary,” Sims said. “I can only imagine what the residents and the visitors of the county were feeling at the time.”
Police from around the region flocked to the area, locking it down, while they hunted for an active shooter, using K-9s and helicopters.
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Laghaoui surrendered about 4:30 a.m. the next day, minus an AK-47 he purchased months before, but has never been recovered.
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In closings, prosecutors accused Laghaoui of ambushing Barnes as she returned for the second time that night, in response to a domestic dispute apparently initially sparked by an argument with his father and brother over his refusal to clean up after making and eating hummus, while his brother and father fasted during Ramadan, a Muslim holy period.
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“The goal is to kill Deputy Barnes,” Assistant County Prosecutor Travis Vieux said.
Prosecutors said Laghaoui was also intent on killing both family members when he fired through the apartment door lock, severing his father’s right index finger, before realizing he was out of ammunition and returning to his car to reload, then fled the scene.
“I thought it was my last day,” brother Lau Laghaoui testified last Wednesday.
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Each charge gave the jury the option to find Laghaoui not guilty by reason of insanity or self defense.
In closing, Laghaoui’s lawyer said mental illness, fed by the stress of the incident and possibly his use of synthetic drugs, prompted hallucinations leaving Laghaoui believing he was under attack.
“This is no different than the snake in the throat,” lawyer Nadeem Quraishi said, referring to testimony that Laghaoui traveled to Morocco, where he was born, as well as a handful of area medical facilities for help with this problem.
In addition to Barnes – who in the dark said he failed to realize was the deputy with whom he had talked amicably in the first call – Laghaoui told investigators he thought he had just been held up at gunpoint. Then Barnes reappeared, without activating the lights or sirens on her patrol cruiser, Quraishi said.
Three psychologists testified about Laghaoui’s mental condition at the time of the incident. Psychologist Jennifer O’Donnell found Laghaoui was not mentally ill, reversing an opinion from a hearing last year, after reviewing more information and interviewing Laghaoui again for the prosecution.
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Barnes declined to comment, as did Laghaoui as he was led to jail. Judge Timothy Tepe ordered a pre-sentence investigation before sentencing Laghaoui in about six weeks.
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