The question is posed by judges to every defendant seeking to admit guilt rather than go to trial: “Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty of the charges?”
When Kashif Bashir answered “Yes, your honor,” in Prince William County Court, Tuesday, former Alexandria, Virginia police officer Peter Laboy was in the courtroom.
Bashir was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2013 shooting of Laboy, who barely survived the shooting and has undergone several surgeries. Laboy was shot in the head while assisting a young woman whom Bashir was stalking.
As WTOP reported last week, the 36-year-old Woodbridge man pleaded guilty to the felonies of arson of an occupied dwelling, which carries a sentencing range of five years to life in prison, and making false statements on a criminal history check, ranging from one to 10 years behind bars. He also pleaded guilty to misdemeanors of possession of a firearm by an acquitted insane person and unauthorized use of a tracking device,
In 2018, an Alexandria judge released Bashir from a mental hospital with conditions. Eight months later, he was charged with setting fire to the home of a Prince William County therapist he was seeing five days a week and lying on a criminal history check that allowed him to illegally get a gun.
Bashir, wearing an orange jump suit and a mask, listened intently to questions posed by Circuit Court Judge Carroll Weimer Jr. and answered appropriately and politely as the judge made sure he understood the ramifications of entering a guilty plea.
Also in the courtroom were therapists from the Prince William County government board that was responsible for reporting whether Bashir was complying with his conditional release for Laboy’s shooting.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Teresa Polinske said Bashir had a history of seeking inappropriate relationships with his therapists, and had done online searches for their home addresses.
Bashir, who was forbidden from purchasing or possessing a gun as part of his conditional release, had skirted the law by buying a 9mm pistol at the Dale City Gun Show. As it was a private sale, Bashir was not subject to a background check.
From the gun show, Bashir took an Uber to the Sharpshooters Range, in Lorton, where he purchased a silencer, one hour of range time and earplugs.
“He knew where that was, because that’s where he bought the firearm he used to shoot Officer Laboy,” Polinske told the judge.
Polinske said Bashir had ordered several items from Amazon that were used in the crimes, including a 5-pack of opaque plastic bottles with red tops, which were partially filled with gasoline and used to squirt gasoline on the therapists’ cars.
Investigators with the Prince William County Fire and Rescue Fire Marshal’s office found pieces of melted plastic bottles in mulch near the home of the therapist whose home was set on fire.
Bashir’s Amazon order also included a motion detector, a home security camera, a plastic face mask and a magnetic GPS tracking device that he attached to the muffler of one therapist’s car.
After Polinske spoke, Weimer informed the court that decades ago he was employed as an Alexandria police officer. Weimer said he felt it was important to put his former employment on the record, but felt it didn’t affect his ability to fairly hear evidence and accept the plea.
Defense attorney Taso Saunders said while he appreciated the judge’s candor, it gave him some cause for concern. Saunders made a verbal motion for Weimer to recuse himself. The motion was denied, but raised the possibility of an appealable issue.
After hearing the proffer and Bashir’s answers to his questions, Weimer accepted the guilty pleas and set a sentencing date of April 28. The defense and prosecutors will each argue for an appropriate sentence before Weimer.
Prosecutors dropped one felony count of attempted arson, since they couldn’t prove how the fire near one therapist’s car was started. Nine counts of misdemeanor stalking were also dropped.
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