grudge and carrying a stolen .38-cal. Smith and Wesson revolver…. ‘This was a clear assassination,’ said Chief John Hill, commander of the Brooklyn North Patrol Borough.”64 Other articles were more sympathetic, pointing out that Khalil was a fearful young man,65 who acted in self-defense. The two poles—“unjustified assassin” and “fearful youth”— defined much of the debate that transpired at Khalil’s trial.
From the first, his lawyer, John Russell, emphasized that Khalil had committed the crimes because he feared for his life. Russell was joined by noted civil rights lawyer, William Kunstler, and his associate, Ron Kuby. Together they organized a vigorous defense that focused on two points: (1) Khalil feared for his life and hence acted in self-defense and (2) he was suffering from mental illness related to stress and trauma from living in