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'Let Black People Go' Shouts Accused Murderer In Court

Joe Moore - Valley Public Radio

It was a loud and defiant first court appearance for 39-year old Kori Muhammad the man accused of four murders, including three that police say were motivated by racist hate.

Muhammad entered the courtroom shouting that more natural disasters would strike the U.S. and saying ";let black people go with reparations." He shouted second phrase - demanding reparations - at least two more times during the short court proceeding.

Though he is most well-known now for the allegedly racially motivated murder of three random white men this week in downtown Fresno, he was in court today on the charge that he murdered a motel security guard last week. It was not evident if any of his family or the family of his victims attended the proceeding.

According to the Fresno police, Muhammad murdered Carl Allen Williams for some unspecified insult. When he learned he was the suspect in that case, they say he decided to kill as many white people as he could.

Muhammad remained stone-faced and stared straight ahead with his hands shackled at his waist in a prison jumpsuit. Even when he yelled out, his expression barely changed. His distinctive braids are now gone and his hair is cropped close, a step police say he took to hide his identity after the first murder.

The defense asked Judge Kent Hamlin to prohibit the gathered media from showing Muhammad’s face or appearance. The judge initially denied the request until the prosecution jumped in to agree with the defense. The judge then agreed saying it might help if the venue for the trial needs to be changed and that the public would still be able to be informed about the hearing without seeing Muhammad’s image.

The defense also questioned Muhammad’s mental fitness and asked for a psychiatric evaluation, which the judge approved.

At that point the arraignment was suspended and will be resumed May 12th.

His bail is set at $2.6 million.

Charges on this week’s three murders may take some time as police investigate the complicated crime.

Jeffrey Hess is a reporter and Morning Edition news host for Valley Public Radio. Jeffrey was born and raised in a small town in rural southeast Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio with a communications degree, Jeffrey embarked on a radio career. After brief stops at stations in Ohio and Texas, and not so brief stops in Florida and Mississippi, Jeffrey and his new wife Shivon are happy to be part Valley Public Radio.