A Grand Forks man who allegedly told police he tried to stab a woman to death because "she was a witch and he had to slay her" pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
Akmal Rashidovich Azizov, 20, could spend up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the Class A felony attempted murder charge. He's being held without bond because he told police he would try to kill the victim again if released, Assistant State's Attorney Haley Wamstad said.
Court documents allege Azizov told police he spent three weeks stalking and plotting to kill a woman he knew because he believed she was "the cause of all the stress and negativity in his life." He allegedly stabbed her Sept. 5 outside her apartment.
Azizov told Detective Ronald Gibbs the woman "was a witch and had cursed him and he needed to slay her," the Grand Forks officer said Wednesday during a pretrial hearing. Court documents allege the woman cut Azizov out of her life two weeks before he stabbed her because she was alarmed by Azizov telling her about disturbing dreams.
Azizov decided to kill her in mid-August, court documents allege, and he began searching for her around UND's campus. When he saw her one week before the stabbing, he allegedly began following her and tracking her schedule, Gibbs said.
Azizov told police he'd found a story online from the 1800s about a man who was cursed by a witch and shot her with a silver bullet to free himself, Gibbs said. Court documents allege Azizov's phone and computer showed Google searches about how to slay witches and demons. He allegedly purchased an ornate, antique silver knife with a 2-inch blade from the online retailer Etsy for $150 because his research told him silver was best way to "slay demonic entities," court records said.
On Sept. 5, Azizov allegedly followed the woman around campus and planned to kill her but "lost his nerve at the last minute," court documents said. He allegedly followed her home, lost his nerve again and returned to his home before skateboarding about a mile and a half back to her apartment complex on the 3900 block of Gardenview Drive. Court documents said he paced outside her apartment and allegedly smashed in the back window of her car around 5:40 p.m. in an attempt to lure her outside.
Gibbs said the woman came outside to leave for class and noticed her car window was broken. From the corner of her eye she saw Azizov approach her and began to turn away because she did not want contact with him, Gibbs said.
Court documents said Azizov told police he grabbed her from behind and tried three or four times to slit her throat and stab her on the left side of her neck. Azizov told Gibbs he applied more force each time because "he didn't get the result he was expecting."
"It wasn't like you see in the movies," Gibbs said. "There wasn't a lot of blood everywhere."
The woman wriggled free and fell on the ground before Azizov allegedly continued to stab at her as she yelled for help, court documents said. Someone in the parking lot approached them and distracted Azizov while the woman ran to a neighbor's first-floor apartment and waited for police.
She had several non-life threatening lacerations on the left side of her body, but Gibbs said she was not hospitalized.
Gibbs said Azizov allegedly told police "I'm the guy you're looking for" when they arrived on scene. He was allegedly holding the knife in one hand, and in the other hand a rock that he told officers was a "healing" stone, Gibbs said.
Theodore Sandberg, Azizov's attorney, argued the knife was not sharp enough to cause actual damage and said his client could be suffering from mental health issues. Azizov allegedly told police he might have been dealing with schizophrenia.
Sandberg argued Azizov should be granted a reasonable bond so he can seek mental health treatment.
"I have asked the prison to medicate me repeatedly," Azizov told Grand Forks Judge Donald Hager.
Hager maintained he should be held without bond because he poses a substantial public safety risk. Azizov will undergo an evaluation at the North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown.
"This case is significant because we rarely have a situation where the defendant verbalizes to police his intent to finish the job if released," Wamstad said.
Azizov will appear in court again Dec. 20.