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murder by any other name

Nathan Chandler Powell produced an Academy Award nominated film, Fire Dancer. The film “dramatizes the struggles of Afghan immigrants living in New York City.

Jawed Wassel wrote the screenplay on which the film was based.

Now, Jawed Wassel is dead, murdered by Powell.

Powell’s defense? September 11 post traumatic stress.

Powell claims he feared that Wassel intended to funnel money made off the film to the Taliban. The events of September 11 made Powell suspicious of Wassel, he claims.

After Powell murdered Wassel on October 3, 2002 after fighting over profits, Powell “cut up the body, packed the parts in boxes but kept the head in his refrigerator.” He made an attempt to bury the body, but abandoned his efforts and was apprehended by the police after leaving the scene where he dug a small hole meant to hide Wassel’s remains.

Powell and his attorney are using September 11 to their benefit, co-opting a tragedy to try to get a cold-blooded, greedy killer off the hook.

It’s a shame that so many people see 9/11 as an excuse to behave badly, to dream up reasons for committing crimes. From everything I have heard and read about the above case, Powell seems to be nothing more than a greedy, selfish man who killed for cash.

That's why Liotti is using the post-traumatic card; perhaps Powell's vision was blurred by the sight of the Word Trade Center crumbling and now he sees every middle eastenr person as a potential Taliban supporter, Liotti will say, and he will expect the jury to see that, to think that Powell was crazed with grief and fear and he thought was beating down al Qaida while he sliced off Wassel's head. Liotti most likely believes that juries are prone to accept stress and mental disease as a defense than "I thought he was taking my money."

While the post-9/11 America may think differently about people from Middle Eastern countries than it did before that day, Liotti has, in my mind, discounted the one thing that will keep his jury, who he probably hopes to all be biased against people from Afghanistan, from finding in Powell's favor.

There is hardly anyone on Long Island who wasn’t in some way personally affected by the events of 9/11. Liotti will be hard pressed to fill out a jury where a large percentage of the jurors will not feel outrage as someone using September 11 as an excuse for taking someone’s life. The people who lost friends and loved ones will feel outrage, not sympathy, for a man who is using a very tragic day for them as defense for murder.

I will be keeping a close eye on this case, which opened today in Mineola. Here’s hoping the jury does what’s right and they do not find this cretin “found not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect.”


That's just sick. Plain and simple. What a disgusting and pathetic attempt to "jusitfy" a murder.

Maybe I'm just cynical but I'm surprised that it's taken this long for something like this to happen.

The jury will almost have to discount the "defense" - could you imagine what would happen if the jury decides otherwise? How many other people will try to get out of trouble by using this defense? It's a frightening prospect if they open the doors for people to use this excuse in the future.