MINNEAPOLIS - Prosecutors agreed today to drop murder-for-hire charges against a daughter of Malcolm X in a deal that requires her to abandon her allegations of an FBI frame-up and seek drug and psychiatric treatment.
The settlement was presented this morning at Qubilah Shabazz's scheduled appearance for a trial on charges of plotting to kill Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum approved the agreement without comment.
U.S. Attorney David Lillehaug said the charges arose "out of an extraordinary set of historical and personal events which appeared to have triggered Shabazz's actions."
Shabazz, who saw her father gunned down 30 years ago, was accused of trying to have Farrakhan killed because she believed he had a hand in her father's assassination and was a threat to her mother.
Outside the courtroom, Shabazz said she was "relieved that it's over now and (I'm) leaving it behind me."
Defense attorney Percy Sutton said her lawyers decided they could not risk the chance she might be convicted. She faced up to 90 years in prison and a $2.25 million fine.
Lillehaug said he felt that treatment rather than prison was a more just approach.
The settlement defers trial for two years and allows the charges to be dismissed if Shabazz completes a two-year psychiatric and chemical-dependency program, gets a job or attends school and remains law-abiding.
Shabazz would spend the first three months in a residential treatment program at Alpha House in San Antonio, Texas. She also will be writing for a San Antonio radio station owned by Sutton, he said. The settlement includes an affidavit in which Shabazz accepts responsibility for participating in the plot but maintains her innocent plea.
In the affidavit, Shabazz said a statement she gave to FBI agents - described by prosecutors as a confession - was not coerced and acknowledged that the government "acted in good faith" in prosecuting the case.
The prosecution's case centered on secretly taped telephone conversations between Shabazz, 34, and an informant and a statement that Shabazz gave to FBI agents on Dec. 20.
In pretrial proceedings, the defense argued that the government informant, Michael Fitzpatrick, lured Shabazz into the plot by romancing her and preying upon her fears for her family.