A Grand Forks man was sentenced to six years in the North Dakota Department of Corrections for attempting to murder a woman he knew in September 2018.
Akmal Rashidovich Azizov, 21, plead guilty to attempted murder, criminal mischief and stalking last month. A charge of terrorizing was dropped as part of the plea agreement. Though a mental health evaluation is not a part of the plea agreement, North Dakota District Judge Donald Hager also recommended one when Azizov reports to prison.
Hager also recommended Azizov for potential deportation to Uzbekistan upon completion of his sentence. Azizov has lived in the U.S. since he was in first grade.
"If it were up to me, I wouldn't deport you, but that's up to the federal government," Hager said at the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Azizov told investigators he had spent weeks stalking the victim, a UND student with whom he was acquainted. Court documents said that Azizov believed the woman to be the source of all the negativity in his life, so he purchased a silver pocket knife online with intent to kill her.
An affidavit for his arrest said Azizov followed the victim around campus and to her Garden View Drive apartment and planned to murder her for weeks, but lost his nerve several times. On Sept. 5, 2018, after following her to her apartment, Azizov used his skateboard to smash the back window of her car in order to lure her outside. When she came out of her apartment, he attacked her from behind, slashing her throat several times with the knife.
Court documents said she broke free and ran to a neighbor's apartment for help. She suffered several non-life-threatening lacerations to her neck and did not require hospitalization.
Azizov told first responders that he was the perpetrator and that he had tried to kill the victim because "she was a witch."
Azizov's attorney Theodore Sandberg said that, during the time Azizov has spent incarcerated, multiple doctors have diagnosed him with schizoaffective and bipolar disorders, but Carmell Mattison, representing the state of North Dakota, said there was no indication his symptoms negated his responsibility for his actions.
Sandberg said that Azizov has repeatedly expressed a wish to apologize to the victim and has said that he doesn't blame her and that she is "kind and loving."
In a statement to the court on Nov. 12, Azizov also said he wanted to debunk some of the things that had been said about him throughout his legal proceedings.
"No one's got anything to worry about from me," he said.
Hager noted that, during sentencing, he weighed a number of factors, including Azizov's attitude throughout the proceedings, the fact that he was cooperative with investigators and the fact that he came forward immediately, his lack of a criminal record and the victim's agreement with the plea agreement.
He added that Azizov does not seem anti-social, is intelligent and well-educated, and has a supportive family. Hager said because of that, he believes that with mental health treatment Azizov will respond positively to probation and will be able to rejoin society as a law-abiding citizen after his sentence.
"You've got a lot of good things going for you," Hager said. "I don't normally say this to attempted murder defendants, but I wish you luck."