A graduate student accused of stabbing a Binghamton University professor to death in 2009 is not mentally competent to be tried for murder.

Instead, Abdulsalam al-Zahrani, 46, will be placed in the custody of a state psychiatric facility until he is deemed mentally competent to be tried, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Joann Rose Parry.

Broome County Judge Joseph F. Cawley Jr. signed the competency order this morning in court.

Al-Zahrani’s trial on one felony count of second-degree murder was to have begun with jury selection Tuesday morning. On Friday, however, the potential jurors were told not to report to court.

No new trial date has been set, Parry said Tuesday. The order was signed after a competency hearing and a determination by mental health professionals that al-Zahrani was mentally incompetent to understand the charge or be tried.

The graduate student’s behavior was described by other students to reporters as erratic in the days and weeks before Richard Antoun, a professor emeritus in BU’s anthropology department, was stabbed to death Dec. 4, 2009 in Science Building 1 on the BU campus.

Al-Zahrani has been in the Broome County Jail without bail since he was charged in Antoun’s murder on Dec. 5, 2009.

He’ll be transported to a state psychiatric hospital for treatment, as a result of the order. The order is good for up to year. Al-Zahrani will go on trial when he is deemed mentally competent, Parry said.

Press & Sun-Bulletin

Richard Antoun ’53

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