Trial to open in stabbing spree

By Ed White
Associated Press

FLINT (AP) — Defense lawyers have acknowledged that DNA will be hard evidence to overcome in the first trial linked to a series of stabbings that killed five people in Michigan and injured many more in summer 2010.

Victims who survived the late-night attacks in the Flint area say Elias Abuelazam would ask for directions or help with his Chevy Blazer before stabbing them and speeding away. Jury selection started Tuesday in the death of Arnold Minor, a 49-year-old whose body was found in the middle of a busy street.

Police say Minor’s DNA was discovered in dried blood in Abuelazam’s SUV and inside luggage that was seized as he tried to flee to his native Israel in August 2010.

“DNA’s tough — it just is,” defense attorney Brian Morley said in an interview. “He’s ready. He understands the evidence. He understands what’s going on.”

Abuelazam, 35, is charged with three murders and six attempted murders in the Flint area, although authorities believe he’s responsible for as many as 14 stabbings.
Prosecutors will be allowed to tell jurors about some of the other attacks because they were similar.

Morley and co-counsel Ed Zeineh are prepared to offer an insanity defense, claiming Abuelazam was mentally ill when Minor was killed.

They’ve lined up an expert to talk about his mental state, but a decision about pursuing that strategy won’t be publicly disclosed until trial.

Prosecutors have their own experts who have examined Abuelazam and are prepared to rebut it.

“The question is: Is there legal culpability if there was an insane person at the time of the crime?” Morley said. “That’s the jury’s domain.”

Abuelazam had lived in Flint only for a brief time in a house owned by an uncle who lived next door.

He had spent time in Virginia before landing in Michigan and getting a $10-an-hour job at a liquor store in a tough neighborhood.

He is also charged with attempted murder in Toledo, Ohio, and suspected but not charged in attacks in Leesburg, Va.