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Driver pleads guilty to attempted murder

RALEIGH, N.C., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- A man who drove his vehicle into a crowd of people at the University of North Carolina has pleaded guilty to nine counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Mohammed Taheri-Azar accepted a plea bargain in the March 2006 incident under which prosecutors dropped an additional nine charges of aggravated felonious assault. He faces 21-33 years in prison at a sentencing scheduled for Aug. 26, The News and Observer newspaper in Raleigh, N.C., reported Tuesday.

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Superior Court Judge Carl Fox said he expects seven of the victims to speak about their physical and emotional injuries at the sentencing hearing, which he set up separately to be certain Taheri-Azar was first going to plead guilty. Over the past two years the defendant has tried to fire his court-appointed attorney and been committed to a mental institution, The News and Observer said.

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