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Court proceedings on pause for man accused of trying to 'slay' woman 'because she was a witch'

Akmal Rashidovich Azizov

Court proceedings have paused for a Grand Forks man accused of trying to kill a woman he knew "because she was a witch."

District Court Judge Donald Hager issued an order Monday to postpone proceedings for Akmal Rashidovich Azizov, 20, until results from a mental health evaluation are completed.

Court documents said Azizov stalked a woman he knew for several weeks as he plotted to kill her. He allegedly attacked her outside her apartment Sept. 5 and repeatedly tried to slit her throat and stab her. The woman escaped and suffered only minor injuries, court reports said.

Police said Azizov told them he believed the woman "was a witch and he had to slay her."

Azizov is facing charges for attempted murder, terrorizing, criminal mischief and stalking. He could spend 20 years in prison if convicted.

Defense attorney Theodore Sandberg argued in court last Thursday that Azizov's rights were violated while in jail because police interviewed him without a lawyer. Sandberg said Azizov was clearly not mentally sound during the jail interview. Sandberg's motion calls for the charges to be dismissed.

Azizov had told police he may be suffering from schizophrenia.

Assistant State's Attorney Haley Wamstad said Azizov was notified of his rights before the jail interview and agreed not to have legal counsel present. She said if the court does find Azizov's rights had been violated, dismissal of all charges is not appropriate. She said suppression of the questionable statements would be the solution.

Thursday's hearing was continued without Hager ruling on the allegations about rights violations.

Azizov was ordered for a temporary mental health evaluation, and Hager declared Monday the hearing will be paused until the results are returned.

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