Hassan Sapry (Courtesy photo/Belknap County Corrections)

LACONIA — Hassan Sapry, the Laconia resident who is facing first-degree murder charges in the brutal killing of a Laconia man, was insane at the time of the death due to emotional trauma he suffered after seeing horrors as a child in Iraq, according to a new court document filed by his attorney.

Sapry “suffers and did suffer from a major mental illness,” his attorney, Mark Sisti, said in a notice filed in Belknap Superior Court on Thursday, stating that his client intends “to pursue a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.”

Sapry, 23, is charged with killing Wilfred Guzman on April 18, 2019, in Guzman’s Blueberry Lane apartment. In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Sapry has also been indicted for second-degree murder for allegedly causing Guzman’s death recklessly “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life," and also for falsifying physical evidence, theft by unauthorized taking, and four counts of credit card fraud.

The notice to plead insanity says Sapry’s mental illness is due “primarily to (his) being exposed to significant atrocities while he was a child in Iraq.” The document goes on to enumerate some of those events: “witnessing his classmates killed and injured when a suicide bomber detonated a device at his school, the killing of servicemen in close proximity to him; and the kidnapping and torture of his father.”

Shortly after Sapry’s arrest two years ago, a local person who became a family acquaintance after Sapry and his parents and older brother moved to Laconia said Sapry’s father was abducted and severely beaten by his captors and was released only after his family paid ransom.

Sisti said in the notice to the court that both the prosecution’s and defense’s psychiatrists agree that Sapry has been severely mentally ill for years, and remains so today. They disagree, however, on whether Sapry’s mental illness was the direct cause of his actions that led to Guzman’s death, according to the court document.

Sapry and his family arrived in Laconia in 2008. In their home country of Iraq, Hassan’s father was a driver and bodyguard for Western and U.N. diplomats. Shortly after the father was released by his kidnappers, the family moved to Syria. It was from there they emigrated to the U.S.

Guzman, 57, died after a violent and bloody struggle during which he received a fractured skull and multiple wounds, according to an affidavit filed in connection with the case.

The medical examiner concluded that “multiple weapons” were used during the attack, the affidavit states.

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