The death penalty is normally saved for the worst of offenders. Miami Muslim convert Askari Abdullah Muhammad, born Thomas Knight, was one such offender. Muhammad, whose chosen Islamic first name means “warrior,” converted to Islam while on death row for a gruesome double murder he committed in 1975. However, his conversion to Islam is exactly what inspired his third murder.
Islam requires its male followers to maintain an unkempt beard. Muhammad took this mandate seriously, and refused to comply when prison staff asked him to shave it before being able to see a visitor. The forced shaving makes sense; it would be possible to hide a small blade in many Muslims’ thick facial manes. However, Muhammad wasn’t having it. He was reported as saying, “it looks like I’ll have to start sticking people.” On the way to the prison shower, he did exactly that – he fatally stabbed a corrections officer in the neck with a sharpened spoon. I’d say *puts sunglasses on* the term “spooning” just got a whole new meaning.
Another possible motive behind Muhammad’s killing of the guard was his own survival. “How can you execute me when I haven’t even had my trial yet about killing the guard?” Muhammad asked in 1981. He then dragged the system through numerous appeals, none of which were successful, and became an even heavier burden on taxpayers.
During his 1996 resentencing, Muhammad was far from peaceful. When he was handed another death sentence, the Islamic rage was unleashed. Muhammad cursed at the lawyers and the judge. He also screamed “Allahu Akbar!” However, since it was 1996, no one really knew what that meant. Otherwise, most of the room probably would have ducked.
It took until January 7, 2014 for Muhammad to finally be executed by lethal injection.