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Jury deliberating in mental hospital slaying case

ELLICOTT CITY — A Howard County jury is deciding the fate of a man charged with strangling a fellow patient at a maximum-security state mental hospital.

Jurors began deliberating Thursday morning in the case of El Soudani El Wahhabi, who is charged with first- and second-degree murder in the death of Susan Sachs at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in 2010.

El Wahhabi testified that he killed Sachs as part of a half-fulfilled suicide pact. His attorney told jurors in closing arguments that El Wahhabi is sick and believed the killing was something he was supposed to do for his friend.

But prosecutors say Sachs wanted to live and it was El Wahhabi who decided that she should die. They say his story of a pact is no excuse and even concedes premeditation.