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Uncle testifies in serial stabbing trial

Elias Abuelazam file photo Elias Abuelazam file photo
Elias Abuelazam in court Elias Abuelazam in court

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The uncle of a serial stabbing suspect in Michigan says he doesn't see his nephew as a violent person.

Tony Sahwany testified Wednesday, the second day of trial for Elias Abuelazam, who is charged with fatally stabbing a 49-year-old man in Flint, Mich.

Prosecutors called Sahwany as a witness to explain how Abuelazam tried to leave the country in 2010 after 14 people were stabbed in the Flint area, five fatally.

Sahwany says he drove Abuelazam to the Detroit airport for a trip to Israel, his nephew's native country, because Abuelazam didn't want to work.

Sahwany says it doesn't "strike his mind" that Abuelazam is violent. He's on trial for the death of Arnold Minor and is separately charged with two more murders and six attempted murders.

Abuelazam is charged with murdering 49-year-old Arnold Minor, who was stabbed while walking in Flint after midnight in August 2010. Testimony began Tuesday and resumes Wednesday in Genesee County court.

Abuelazam "lured him close and brutally stabbed him to death, leaving him to die in a puddle of blood in a gutter on Saginaw Street," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said in his opening remarks.

Minor was walking when he was stabbed just south of downtown Flint. Officers who responded could only get him to say that his attacker was white, Leyton said.

"It wasn't the only clue," the prosecutor said. "He left behind something more powerful than words. He left behind his own blood. ... As he laid there in the street, soon to meet his maker, he left behind a powerful road map for investigators."

Abuelazam's attorney, Brian Morley, said he would reserve his opening statement until prosecutors rest their case. At that time, he'll reveal whether he'll offer an insanity defense.

After the prosecutor's remarks, only a handful of people watched the trial, mostly Minor's relatives. His mother, Elzora Minor, held her son's cremated remains in a box. Flint police Officer Todd Pillsbury testified that he was with Minor when an emergency medical crew arrived.

"He was struggling to breathe. ... He stated, 'Help me, I'm dying,'" Pillsbury recalled.

Outside court, Minor's sister, Stephanie Ward, said she'll never understand the tragedy.

"I can't get that fear out of my head, what he went through that night," Ward said.

It's the first trial of the Israeli citizen from a stabbing spree that rocked Flint. At least 14 people were knifed over a few months, and six died. Abuelazam is charged with three murders and six attempted murders.

His lawyers haven't said if they'll offer an insanity defense.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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