Judge declares mistrial in werewolf murder case

Judge declares mistrial in werewolf murder case
Pankaj Bhasin (Photo credit: Alexandria Sheriff's Office)

By Cody Mello-Klein | cmelloklein@alextimes.com

An Alexandria judge declared a mistrial on March 27 in the murder case of a man who claimed he thought his victim was a werewolf.

The defendant, Pankaj Bhasin, 34, of New Jersey, killed Alexandria resident Bradford Jackson, 65, in a King Street store last July. Bhasin told doctors that he attacked Jackson because he believed Jackson was turning into a werewolf, according to a Washington Post article.

During Bhasin’s trial, a deadlocked Alexandria jury was unable to decide whether to charge Bhasin with murder or to find him not guilty by reason of insanity.

Before the attack on July 13, Bhasin had driven from New Jersey to Georgetown, where he attempted to get a room at the Four Seasons Hotel while holding a can of gasoline, according to the article. When employees asked him to leave, Bhasin said, “Today is going to be a bad day,” according to trial testimony reported by the Post.

Bhasin drove to Alexandria, where he followed Jackson into a King Street store in the hope that Jackson might know something about boxes he believed were full of human DNA in a nearby alley, according to the article. Bhasin then attacked Jackson, breaking several of his bones, stabbing him 53 times with a box cutter and gouging his eyes out, according to the article.

Bhasin then fled the building, half naked and covered in blood, before jumping into the backseat of a parked car in front of the store, according to multiple news reports. A woman and her daughter sitting in the car ran away, at which point Bhasin moved to the driver’s seat, where police found him.

Bhasin later told police, “I killed the wolf,” and that he believed there was “still time to save 99 percent of the moon and planets,” according to the Washington Post article.

Defense attorney Peter Greenspun argued that Bhasin’s mental illness made him incapable of understanding his actions at the time of the attack, according to the article, while David Lord, prosecutor and senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney, argued that Bhasin played up his symptoms to conceal intentionality.

According to a statement from Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter, the prosecution will decide how to proceed next week.