Defense begins for man who killed Ark. soldier

July 22, 2011 - 3:43 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Jurors hearing the case of man who has confessed to shooting two soldiers outside a military recruiting station in Arkansas are likely to hear experts portray him as mentally unstable.

Defense attorneys will call their first witnesses Friday in the trial of Abdulhakim Muhammad. The 26-year-old is charged with capital murder for killing Pvt. William Andrew Long and attempted capital murder for wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula.

His videotaped confession was played for jurors Thursday. In one recording, Muhammad says the 2009 shootings were justified by Islam, the religion he converted to in college. Muhammad was born Carlos Bledsoe in Memphis, Tenn.

Muhammad's attorneys say he was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the shootings, but Muhammad and prosecutors disagree.

Muhammad faces a possible death sentence if convicted.