Abuelazam says "evil spirits" controlled him, caused attacks - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Abuelazam says "evil spirits" controlled him, caused attacks

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(05/17/12) - After calling only one witness, the defense has rested in the Elias Abuelazam murder trial in Genesee county.

Abuelazam did not take the stand.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Norman Miller, did, and testified Abuelazam suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and told him "evil forces" made him harm others.

Abuelazam is suspected in a series of stabbing attacks in Genesee County and is now on trial for the August 2010 murder of Arnold Minor in Flint.
Through Miller, it's the first we've ever heard about why these attacks occurred.

It's the closest to an admission we've heard and the explanation was fairly simple. If not for his major mental illness, he would not have committed the crimes.

"He didn't understand, at the time of the acts, that what he did was wrong," Miller says.

Miller says Abuelazam has had brushes, in the past, with mental illness.

He tried committing suicide in 1997 by stabbing himself in the neck and also stabbed a friend in Israel in 2009, according to Miller.

A doctor in Israel diagnosed him as psychotic then, according to Miller.

In the attacks that terrorized Genesee County in 2010? Miller says "evil forces" were in control, not Abuelazam.

He was doing what delusions commanded him to do, according to Miller.

"He was compelled to do these acts, to find these individuals and harm. Not kill them," Miller says.

"He would stab them. He wanted to hurt them. The delusions did."

"It was just to hurt and then he'd leave," according to Miller.

Miller says Abuelazam was legally insane, at the time of the attacks, and not criminally responsible.

Prosecutors dispute that and attacked his opinion Thursday.

"Isn't it possible, Dr. Miller, when he's telling you about the demons and the voices and the evil spirit he's just not telling you the truth," asked Prosecutor David Leyton on cross examination.

"Anything is possible, but do I think that's what happened here? I'm very confident that's not what happened here," Miller responded.

Miller admitted, when questioned by Leyton, he was paid $6,000 for his time spent on the case. 

Miller also said he has not testified on behalf of prosecutors, in criminal cases, in five years.

Prosecutors have started calling rebuttal witnesses.

Thomas Brewer, with the state's Center for Forensic Psychiatry, testified Abuelazam also told him about "evil spirits" and felt it was a function of have the soul sucked out of his body.

"He wanted me to know he'd been suffering," Brewer says.

Brewer testified Abuelazam said the spirits would release after the attacks and he'd feel human again.

But Brewer also says he believes Abuelazam is not legally insane and is criminally responsible. 

Prosecutors have two additional witnesses they intend to call Friday that will say the same.

"How is it possible that each and every time he's overcome by these spirits or these demonic forces that it's always in a deserted area," Leyton asked. "It's always an African-American male of small stature alone and then each and every one he flees? It just doesn't add up."

Jurors could hear closing arguments Tuesday.

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