Attorney: Man who killed teen over rap music is mentally ill
PHOENIX (AP) — The attorney for a white man charged with fatally stabbing a black teenager at a convenience store because he felt threatened by his rap music says his client is mentally ill and was released from jail on a prior assault conviction without medication.
The killing has ignited a national outcry, including comments from a Democratic presidential candidate who is calling for a federal investigation.
"This is a failing on the part of the [Arizona] Department of Corrections," defense attorney Jacie Cotterell told a judge Tuesday, where Michael Adams was charged with first-degree murder.
Authorities say Adams stabbed 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin last Thursday at a convenience store in a Phoenix suburb. First responders discovered Al-Amin collapsed outside the store's gas pumps and took him to a hospital, where he died. Police said several people inside the store had watched as Al-Amin was stabbed in the throat and the back before he ran outside.
Officers said they found Adams nearby with a pocket knife and blood on his body. Adams, 27, told them he had felt threatened by the rap music coming from Al-Amin's vehicle.
Adams is being held on $1 million bond. He had been freed July 2 after serving a 13-month sentence for aggravated assault.
Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said in a statement that "the tragic death is terrible, and Mr. Adams will have to answer for his alleged actions."
The statement said that when Adams was released he "was not designated seriously mentally ill" and that once the department transported him from the state prison complex where he had served his sentence to the Phoenix area it "had no further legal authority over him."
Friends and family hugged Monday at the Islamic Community Center in suburban Tempe, where prayers were held for 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin before his burial.