In the summer of 2010, the Flint, Michigan area was terrified by a stabbing spree that left six people dead and nine more wounded. Elias Abuelazam, 35, has been implicated in the crimes.
Thursday, Abuelazam’s defense attorneys provided a first glimpse at their strategy, calling Dr. Norman Miller to tell the jury their client’s insanity led to the knife spree. Dr. Miller labelled Abeulazam a paranoid schizophrenic “marionette” under the spell of “evil voices trying to control him.”
The expert underscored the point to the jury that due to his mental disease Abuelazam should not be held responsible for his actions: “The delusions controlled him. They not only told him but compelled him to hurt people… People who are delusional are operating under forces that are greater than them.”
Dr. Miller told the jury that Abuelazam had showed signs of mental illness for years prior to the crimes — and that he had attempted suicide by cutting his own neck in 1997.
With Dr. Miller’s testimony finished, Abuelazam informed Judge Judith Fullerton he would not be taking the stand in his own defense.
Prosecutors called a mental health expert of their own, State psychologist Thomas Brewer, who said that Abuelazam also told him about the “evil spirits” in his head. However, Brewer concluded that the defendant was not powerless to control himself, and thus could be found criminally responsible for the stabbings.
The current trial for the murder of 49-year-old Arnold Minor is Abuelazam’s first for the alleged crime spree. It began on Tuesday, May 8 when prosecutors began building a strong case against Abuelzam, identifying dried blood in the defendant’s car as Minor’s and calling several surviving stabbing victims to identify the defendant.
Bill Fisher told jurors he was waiting for the bus and was approached by Abuelazam, who asked Fisher to help open the hood of the defendant’s Chevy Blazer. Seemingly out of nowhere, Fisher felt a knife enter his body: “He came so fast. I had a dagger in my stomach,” Fisher said. Other victims said Abuelazam asked for directions before attacking them with his knife. The State rested its case on May 15.
Abuelazam, an Israeli Arab, was captured at an Atlanta airport trying to flee the United States. Abuelezam had lived in the United States for over a decade, residing in Virginia and Florida before moving to Michigan.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Abuelazam faces life in prison.
Abuelazam is also suspected of knife attacks in Toledo, Ohio and Leesburg, VA.