Additional cases suspended against Michigan serial stabbing suspect serving life sentence
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton says trials would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars
A man charged in a series of fatal stabbings in a Michigan city in 2010 will face no additional trials in the state unless his first murder conviction is overturned, a prosecutor said Friday, citing the high cost of bringing each case to court.
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said the decision was a practical one: Elias Abuelazam already is serving a life sentence without parole, and additional trials would cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Abuelazam was convicted last spring of fatally stabbing a man after the Israeli native tricked him into believing he needed help with his car. Two more murder cases and six attempted murder cases were pending in Genesee County, 60 miles north of Detroit.
Those cases are now suspended. Leyton and assistant prosecutor Tamara Phillips will bring Abuelazam to trial again only if the Michigan appeals court or Supreme Court finds fault with the first murder conviction and upsets that guilty verdict.
People convicted in Michigan of first-degree murder are entitled to an appeal. Abuelazam's is in the early stages.
The agreement was signed by defense attorney Ed Zeineh and presented to a judge Friday. Abuelazam, who was transported from prison for the brief hearing, said he understood the deal.
"In the interests of justice, this is appropriate," Zeineh said in court.
Abuelazam, 36, was linked to 14 stabbings in and around Flint in summer 2010, although he was not charged in every incident. Five people died.
He presented an insanity defense at his first trial, the death of Arnold Minor, but the jury rejected it. He faces a separate attempted murder charge in Toledo, Ohio.