A Berkeley woman tearfully pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that she murdered her 9-year-old son at their Shattuck Avenue home last month.
Misti Hassan, 31, who was dressed in red jail clothes and sobbed as she nodded to about 25 family members and friends who came to her brief appearance in Alameda County Superior Court, is scheduled to return to court Jan. 29 for a pretrial hearing on charges that she murdered Amir Hassan at her apartment at 3011 Shattuck Ave.
An Alameda County sheriff’s deputy became upset when Hassan’s boyfriend waved to her and handcuffed him, hauled him out of the courtroom and arrested him for allegedly illegally communicating with an inmate.
Berkeley police found Amir dead when they went to the apartment shortly before 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 10 after getting a tip from San Jose police. They said he may have been dead for up to 36 hours.
Misti Hassan was suffering from cuts to her arms and neck and was taken to a local trauma center, where she was treated for non-life threatening injuries, Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said.
Hassan later was taken to the John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro, where she was arraigned Monday. Since then she was transferred to the Alameda County in Dublin, where she’s still being held.
Authorities have indicated that Hassan may have suffered from mental illness, and Berkeley police say that a friend of Hassan’s told authorities that Hassan phoned her the morning of Oct. 10 to report that Hassan said she killed Amir with klonopin, an anti-anxiety medication.
People close to the case also have indicated that Hassan may have been upset that Amir’s father, Chad Reed, was seeking custody of Amir and that her boyfriend had recently broken up with her.
Outside court today, Hassan’s attorney, Lewis Romero, declined to comment on whether her mental competency will be an issue in defending her against the murder charges. Romero told the large group of people who came to court on Hassan’s behalf that, “Your support is the healing she needs.”
Romero said, “This defense will be about transcending the norms, transcending the jail walls and transcending the law.”
He said Hassan “is an unusual human being” and “can’t do it without the love and intelligence of the community.”
Romero said the arrest of Hassan’s boyfriend shows that the court staff “is discomforted with the sense of love” displayed by Hassan’s supporters.
He said Hassan’s boyfriend “will be OK.”
Alameda County sheriff’s officials weren’t immediately available for comment.