Timothy Bakdash's attorney plans to argue his client was too drunk to commit murder

Bakdash's attorney plans to argue his client was too drunk to form an intent to kill.
Bakdash's attorney plans to argue his client was too drunk to form an intent to kill.

Timothy Bakdash's defense attorney plans to employ an unusual defense during his client's upcoming first-degree murder trial.

It goes something like this: Timothy was very drunk, therefore he couldn't have planned to kill anybody when he drove his car onto a Dinkytown sidewalk and into a crowd of pedestrians last April 15, hitting and killing 23-year-old Benjamin Van Handel.

Minnesota law requires prosecutors to demonstrate Bakdash intended to kill, but defense attorney Joseph Tamburino plans to argue that Bakdash was too intoxicated to have intent.

Tamburino gave the Pioneer Press a preview of the strategy he plans to use during the trial, for which jury selection begins today.

"He did not intend to kill anyone, he did not attempt to kill anyone," Tamburino said. "He was intoxicated, and he was driving, but he had absolutely no intent or premeditation to kill anyone."

Prosecutors declined to preview their strategy, telling the PiPress that "everything will come out in trial."

According to the charging documents, Bakdash, 29, was drinking at The Library Bar in Dinkytown last April 15 when he got into an argument with some other patrons. Bakdash left the bar, jumped into his Mitsubishi Galant, and -- when he saw who he thought he'd been arguing with -- revved his engine and drove up a sidewalk in their direction while heading the wrong way down Fifth Street Southeast.

He allegedly hit two women who'd been at the Kitty Kat Klub, and Van Handel, a U of M student. Van Handel was carried 50 feet on the hood of the car, struck his head on a utility pole, then flew through the air into the intersection. He died several days later from injuries to his head.

Bakdash was initially charged with second-degree murder, but a Grand Jury upgraded the charge to first-degree murder last May. He has remained in jail since the incident, unable to pay his $1 million bail.

Previous coverage:
-- Diana Bakdash, mother of Timothy Bakdash, cleared on all charges
-- Timothy Bakdash indicted for first-degree murder
-- Timothy Bakdash says he ran over pedestrians on purpose
-- Ben Van Handel wasn't Timothy Bakdash's intended target on the night he died

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