Jury selection continues in Elias Abuelazam's stabbing case - WNEM TV 5

Jury selection continues in Elias Abuelazam's stabbing case

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Elias Abuelazam Elias Abuelazam
Memorial for Arnold Minor/photo Tia Ewing Memorial for Arnold Minor/photo Tia Ewing

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Prosecutors and lawyers for a man charged in a string of stabbings that terrorized Flint two summers ago are interviewing potential jurors for his first murder trial.

Kimberley Minor had her brother Arnold Minor's ashes with her Tuesday and says she plans to bring them to every day of Elias Abuelazam's trial.

The trial centers on Minor's death.

On Wednesday, 61 potential jurors were invited back for a second round of questioning for Thursday. These potential jurors are being asked if they have an opinion of Abuelazam's guild or innocence. They're also being asked if they have been influenced by media coverage of the case.  

Officials say jury selection could wrap up sometime Thursday.

Lawyers and the judge especially want to know if people familiar with the stabbing spree that terrorized Flint can sit as fair-minded jurors.

Victims who survived the late-night attacks in the Flint area say Abuelazam would ask for directions or help with his Chevy Blazer before stabbing them and speeding away. Jury selection starts 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."

Minor's family appeared in court as prosecutors and defense attorneys attempted to narrow down a pool of potential jurors. TV5's Tia Ewing reported the family brought Minor's ashes to court.

"I brought my brother, as always, everyday in court," said Stephanie Ward, Minor's sister as she clutched an urn full of his ashes. "He'll be with us. He keeps us going because we know he's not able to rest, just like we're not, so we'll be here until we're able to lay him to rest."

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.

Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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