The arraignment of a Portland man charged with murder in his father’s death was postponed Monday after his defense attorney argued that he cannot understand the court proceedings he faces.

Abdallah Salim Al Siraj, 22, was indicted last week on one count of murder in the Feb. 10 death of his father, Salim Al Siraj, 50, who was found in his Carleton Street apartment by police conducting a wellness check.

Abdallah Salim Al Siraj Photo courtesy of Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office

Shortly after the victim’s son was arrested, a judge ordered that he undergo a mental evaluation; for several weeks, he has been housed at the Maine State Prison’s intensive mental health unit in Warren, said one of his attorneys, Robert Ruffner.

The arraignment was called off at the last minute when another attorney for Al Siraj filed a motion requesting a continuance.

“(Defense counsel) has been informed … that Mr. Al Siraj does not currently have a clear comprehension of today’s court proceedings,” wrote attorney Ashley Slaton, Ruffner’s co-counsel, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

For court cases to proceed, defendants must be able to understand and comprehend the charges against them. If someone is not competent to face a criminal charge, the state can take steps to restore their competency by providing mental health treatment, often while they are incarcerated awaiting trial.


In rare cases, a judge may determine, after extensive consultation with experts, doctors and defense attorneys, that the mental state of a defendant cannot be sufficiently restored, leading to the dismissal of the case.

It’s unclear if or when Al Siraj may be able to appear in court, Ruffner said.

“It’s going to take a little time,” Ruffner said.

It also was not clear whether the father and son lived together, how the father was killed or what police believe was the alleged motivation. Court records indicate that police believe the father died Feb. 10, five days before his son was charged.

Police have said little about what evidence they believe links Al Siraj to his father’s death, and an arrest affidavit was ordered impounded (or sealed from public view) by a judge.

The affidavit remained impounded Monday, and it’s unclear if more information will be released in the future. There is no new date set for Al Siraj’s arraignment.

The 37-unit building where the body was found is owned by affordable housing provider Avesta Housing.

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