Al-Zahrani pleas guilty, sentenced to 15 years

Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani, a former Binghamton University doctoral student, was sentenced in Broome County Court to 15 years in prison Friday for stabbing a BU professor to death in December 2009.

Photo provided Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the stabbing murder of a BU emeritus professor.

Al-Zahrani stabbed Richard Antoun, an emeritus professor of the anthropology at BU, four times with a 6-inch kitchen blade in Antoun’s Science 1 office on Dec. 4, 2009. Professor Antoun died at Wilson Memorial Hospital later that afternoon.

The Saudi Consulate paid for the legal defense of Al-Zahrani, a Saudi national. He was initially indicted by a grand jury for second-degree murder.

Al-Zahrani will be deported to Saudi Arabia after he serves his 15-year prison sentence.

In October 2010, one of Al-Zahrani’s two attorneys, Frederica Miller, filed a notice with the Broome County Court declaring the defense’s intent to present psychiatric evidence demonstrating that the defendant suffered from “longstanding mental illness.”

According to court documents submitted by Miller, the defense argued that the defendant lacked criminal responsibility for his action under New York penal law because he could not appreciate its nature or consequences due to mental illness.

Miller’s filing stated that two mental health experts, Steven Simring and Charles Ewing, said they would testify that Al-Zahrani has schizoaffective disorder and was psychotic at the time of the stabbing.

In February this year a Broome County judge signed off on a indefinite postponement of Al-Zahrani’s murder trial based on reports that the defendant was not mentally competent to stand trial.

Vincent Accardi, Al-Zahrani’s other attorney, said at the time that his client remained in a state-funded psychiatric institution until doctors could determine if he was fit to be tried in court.

Al-Zahrani pleaded guilty on May 20 to one felony count of first-degree manslaughter.

Broome County District Attorney Gerald F. Mollen told the Press & Sun-Bulletin that Al-Zahrani agreed not to appeal his sentence as part of his guilty plea.

— Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.