Mohammed Laghaoui found guilty of most serious counts in shooting of deputy, father

Posted at 11:07 AM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 18:05:04-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- Mohammed Laghaoui faces more than 40 years in prison after being convicted Wednesday in the shooting of a Warren County deputy and his own father. 

A jury convicted the Warren County man of attempted aggravated murder, attempted murder and nine of 10 counts in all. Laghaoui was found not guilty of firing into a neighbor's apartment.

Sheriff Larry Sims said he was relieved and reacted with appreciation for Deputy Katie Barnes, who was grazed in the stomach by a bullet from Laghaoui’s AK-47 style weapon last June.

“As a member of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, we’ve seen her strength and character as a result of this. We’re proud to say she’s back to full duty representing the Warren County Sheriff’s Office again,” Sims said.

Sims and Barnes attended the trial every day.

LISTEN to Deputy Barnes's testimony below:


Laghaoui stood motionless as he learned his fate.

The defense had argued that Laghaoui was not guilty by reason of insanity and that, because of his state of mind, he thought he was defending himself.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said jurors felt Laghaoui was having problems.

“Those tend to be some of the most difficult cases that jurors tend to handle,” Fornshell said.

“I think there was a level of sympathy for the defendant. They believed there was some mental health issue there.”

But Fornshell said Laghaoui's actions that night - firing at Barnes before she even saw him, hiding from authorities and getting rid of the gun – showed he knew the difference between right and wrong.

The trial had 25 witnesses and lasted eight days. The jury deliberated for about four hours.

Laghaoui will be sentenced in about six weeks.

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Prosecutors say Laghaoui shot his father in the hand last June 9 after an argument over eating hummus during fasting for Ramadan. They say he turned his gun on Barnes as she was responding to the family's call for help.

A psychologist testified in September that Laghaoui exhibited bizarre behavior and wasn't fit to stand trial, but Warren County Judge Michael Gilb ruled otherwise.

Following the argument, Laghaoui's brother called 911 and said he was afraid his brother would try to kill him. Laghaoui left his family's apartment in the Orchards of Landen after punching one family member in the face, authorities said. 

Barnes arrived on the scene, determined that it was a domestic dispute, and left.

When Laghaoui returned to the apartment after 10 p.m. with a gun, his brother called for help again and Barnes returned.

Laghaoui's father and brother wouldn't let him in, so he shot through the door, striking his father, officials said. Then he fired several times at Barnes; one bullet struck her gun belt and grazed her lower abdomen. 

In the cruiser camera video, Barnes shouts: "I've been hit" after a round of gunshots.  

Barnes had never used her gun in the line of duty before that night. She fired four shots at Laghaoui and radioed for help as she retreated to cover. 

Laghaoui fled and a seven-hour manhunt ensued. Residents of the area were ordered to shelter in place until 5 the next morning.

When Laghaoui returned to the apartment, deputies were waiting for him. After he surrendered, he told them he had thrown his gun into a nearby lake. The weapon has not been recovered.

Dr. Douglas Reed, a forensic psychologist, told the court that Laghaoui had been using synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or Spice, and didn't realize what it contained.

Drugs made far worse whatever rational response Laghaoui might have normally had, Reed said. And he told the court he believes Laghaoui had used synthetic marijuana the night of the shooting.

"He did not know what it was doing to him, in my opinion. It was far worse than he thought," Reed said.

The prosecution and its witnesses argued Laghaoui did understand the implications of his actions the night of the shooting.

"He fled, he hid, he concealed evidence," Travis Vieux, assistant prosecuting attorney, said. "He was logical. He was organized and he was goal-directed."

The two sides went back and forth with mental health experts on Laghaoui's state of mind. Forensic psychologist Dr. Thomas Martin said Laghaoui told him: "I knew it would be wrong. I was always brought up by my family to know it was wrong to kill somebody else."