FLINT (WWJ/AP) – A man convicted of murder in a 2010 stabbing spree in Michigan was sentenced to life in prison Monday, wrapping up the first in a series of cases against Elias Abuelazam.
Michigan offers no parole to people convicted of first-degree murder, which means the 35-year-old Israeli immigrant will be locked up until he dies unless he wins an appeal.
The first of 10 possible trials stemming from the stabbing spree centered on the death of Arnold Minor, a 49-year-old handyman who was attacked after midnight near downtown Flint. The evidence was virtually impossible to overcome: The victim’s blood was found in Abuelazam’s Chevy Blazer and inside his luggage.
As the mandatory sentence was announced, the victim’s mother, Elzora Minor, collapsed in tears and was carried from the courtroom. His sister, Stephanie Ward, said she wants Abuelazam to “rot in hell.”
Defense lawyers said Abuelazam was paranoid schizophrenic and believed he was under the spell of demons that forced him to kill. But three experts hired by prosecutors interviewed him and found he wasn’t mentally ill or incapable of understanding the criminal acts.
Defense attorney David Morley told WWJ Newsradio 950 that Abuelazam chose not to make a statement in court or to the victim’s family.
“The judge said, ‘Do you have anything you’d like to say?’ And I didn’t hear him clearly, but it was words to the effect of, ‘No, I agree with Mr. Morley’,” Morley said.
“My statement to the court had simply been that there were significant mental health issues raised during trial concerning Mr. Abuelazam and I asked that the Department of Corrections be advised of those,” he said.
The stabbing spree terrified the working-class city of Flint. Fourteen people were stabbed in the area, and five died, including Minor. Survivors said their assailant claimed to have car trouble or asked for directions before attacking.
Most were stabbed in the wee hours. There is no evidence that Abuelazam, who worked the afternoon shift in a party store, knew them. A motive has not been offered.
Abuelazam had lived in Flint just a few months, staying in a house owned by his uncle, who lived next door. Abuelazam was captured in Atlanta in August 2010 while trying to flee to Israel.
He faces two more murder trials and six attempted murder trials in Michigan as well as an attempted murder case in Toledo, Ohio. It’s not clear, however, whether prosecutors actually will pursue that many trials.
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