Man sentenced to life in Michigan stabbing spree
FLINT, Mich. – With one life sentence already in the bag, a prosecutor said Monday he'll consider offering plea deals to close the eight remaining cases from a fatal 2010 stabbing spree in Michigan.
Elias Abuelazam received a mandatory no-parole punishment for killing a handyman in his first murder trial. The 35-year-old Israeli immigrant still faces two additional murder trials and six attempted murder trials in Flint, as well an attempted murder case in Toledo, Ohio.
Shackled at the belly, Abuelazam was in and out of court within minutes Monday.
The 68-year-old mother of victim Arnold Minor, holding her son's cremated remains, collapsed and had to be carried from the courtroom. Elzora Minor said her legs weakened when she looked over and saw a grin on Abuelazam's face.
She was standing at a courtroom lectern next to daughter Stephanie Ward, who had a biting farewell for Abuelazam.
"I'm just glad for this day and hope that he rots in hell for the pain he put this city through," Ward told Genesee County Judge Judith Fullerton.
The stabbing spree terrified the working-class city of Flint. Fourteen people were attacked in the area, and five died. Survivors said Abuelazam claimed to have car trouble or asked for directions before plunging a knife into them.
"This man terrorized our community. He murdered our citizens. He slashed our people. He stabbed and maimed our friends," county Prosecutor David Leyton said before the sentence was announced.
He said he hoped the punishment would satisfy all victims. Four men who survived were allowed to testify at trial.
Outside court, Leyton signaled for the first time that the first trial may be the last. He said he will talk to survivors and relatives of the deceased about offering plea deals to Abuelazam in eight cases.
"We've secured his conviction and a sentence of life without parole. ... I have to balance their feelings with my fiduciary duties to the county," Leyton told The Associated Press, referring to the cost of so many trials.
But it's hard to see any benefit for Abuelazam, especially when he's already going to prison for the rest of his life.
"It's way too early. There's a lot going through his head," defense attorney Ed Zeineh said of any deals. "I would like to discuss a potential resolution but it's not my decision."
Minor's blood was detected in Abuelazam's luggage, which was seized when he tried to flee the United States for Israel. Facing such overwhelming DNA evidence, defense lawyers tried to convince jurors that he was insane and under the control of demons during the stabbing spree. But three experts hired by prosecutors interviewed Abuelazam and found he wasn't mentally ill or incapable of understanding the criminal acts.
Abuelazam was given a chance to speak Monday but said nothing about Minor's death. Most victims were stabbed in the wee hours. There is no evidence that Abuelazam, who worked the afternoon shift at a party store, knew them.
Fullerton, unlike many judges in high-profile cases, didn't offer any tough words before the convicted killer was taken back to jail.