Elias Abuelazam found guilty of murder - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Elias Abuelazam found guilty of murder

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Arnold Minor Arnold Minor

(05/22/12) - Jurors have found Elias Abuelazam guilty of first degree premeditated murder in the trial of Arnold Minor in Flint.

Prosecutors say it took jurors roughly one hour to reach the verdict. Jurors asked no questions and did not ask for exhibits.

"I think the public should know what an outstanding job law enforcement did with this case," says Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.

"Both Lt. Leigh Tidball, who's with me, and Sgt. Al Ogg, who's with me, headed up investigations that were just tremendous and made it so much easier for Assistant Prosecutor Tammy Phillips and myself and all of those in this office who've worked on the case to be successful and get the verdict we did today," Leyton says.

Abuelazam is suspected in a series of stabbing attacks in 2010, but was only trial for the murder of Arnold Minor in Flint.

Minor's family was in court Tuesday, as they have been for nearly all of the trial. 

There was two weeks of testimony.  Closing arguments were Tuesday.  It took jurors about one hour to reach a verdict.

"I've just been waiting on this day. It's been 658 days. You know I've been counting," says Minor's sister Stephanie Ward.

"Took us 658 days to get to this day. He's (Abuelazam) going where he needs to be," Ward says.

"(I) felt a sigh of relief before the jury even got in there. I got emotional because I just felt it," says Minor's brother Kareem Minor.

Abuelazam faces charges in eight other stabbing attacks in Genesee County.

"As we go forward, I will make the determination as to whether those other cases should be tried or worked out through some kind of a negotiated plea," Leyton says. "The victims in those cases deserve justice as well."

Abuelazam's attorneys contend he was mentally ill at the time of the attack and should not be held criminally responsible.

The one and only witness the defense called, a psychiatrist who examined Abuelazam, says he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Abuelazam claims to have been under the influence of "evil forces" made during the attacks.

"What's not answered is the why. Am I saying the jury got it wrong? Not necessarily. But it's a hard, hard issue to prove. That there was insanity. Unfortunately, it is what is," says defense attorney Brian Morley.

"The devil was in him? He can go straight to the devil, straight to hell," Ward says.

Prosecutors countered with three doctors of their own who also examined Abuelazam. They believe he is not mentally ill and should be held criminally responsible.

One of the jurors in the case spoke out for the first time, only to ABC12.

The foreman spoke on behalf of the 12 jurors who deliberated in the case.

He said the facts that led to the guilty verdict were pretty straight forward.

"We wanted to do the right thing, let him go if he was innocent, also convict him if he was guilty," said juror Will Olge.

There's no doubt in Olge's mind that he and his fellow jurors made the right decision. This was the first time he took part in such a high profile case.

"As a citizen, you have to look at what's your duty. Evidence was overwhelming, he knew what he was doing," he said.

Eight woman and four men ultimately decided Elias Abuelazam's fate in this case. No single piece of evidence stood out more than the others, according to Olge - they were convinced by the complete package put together by the prosecution. Now their thoughts can turn outside the courtroom.

"I am happy for the victims. Can't bring them back, but he deserves what he got. His life on earth is no good, he's going to spend it in prison, I hope, and it's between him and his God now to make things right."

After the verdict was read Tuesday afternoon, Minor's family stopped by the location of his murder to remember the life of their loved one.

Abuelazam will be sentenced June 25. First degree carries mandatory life in prison without parole.

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