Maslamani Found Guilty Of Murder
Ihab Maslamani Faces 18 Charges, Including Murder
Jurors have found Ihab Maslamani guilty on 18 charges, including the first-degree murder of Matthew Landry.
Landry's family gasped as the jury declared Maslamani guilty on each count.
Maslamani was found guilty in a Harrison Township bank robbery, kidnapping a woman inside of the bank at gunpoint, the carjacking of a man outside of Walmart and the kidnapping and murder of Landry.
Applause was heard in the courtroom after the verdict was read.
"We're glad it's over, we're glad it's, it's a huge relief," said Doreen Landry, Landry's mother.
The victim in the bank robbery case, Sarah Maynard, said she was anxiously awaiting the verdict.
"I thought it would be closure to see the verdict in the case. My parents have been taking off work and my grandparents have been here all week to sit with me," said Sarah Maynard.
Maynard had said she hoped Maslamani was convicted of murder.
The case was turned over to the jury Thursday evening and jurors began deliberating at 9 a.m. Friday, taking a break for lunch.
Local 4 has learned the jury asked for clarification on jury instruction on the murder charge and have reviewed audio tapes.
Maslamani was charged on 18 charges in a three-day crime spree that began Aug. 9, 2009, with the abduction and killing of Landry, prosecutors said.
He is also accused of robbing a Flagstar Bank in Harrison Township on Aug. 10, 2009, before he was arrested during a botched carjacking attempt at a Walmart in Roseville the next day.
Landry's body was found in a vacant burned-out house in Detroit on Aug. 13, 2009.
His attorney, Joseph Kosmala, said Maslamani, 18, doesn't really understand the gravity of the situation.
"He doesn?t get it. He's a child, this is cowboys and Indians to him. He kept asking if we were doing good and weather he could have some candy," said Kosmala.
Maslamani, 18, was expected to take the stand Thursday but waived his right, which sent the trial into closing arguments.
Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor William Cataldo began his closing arguments with meticulous details about the charges against Maslamani.
"He tried to pull a gun on the police. It was at that time he took a beating. He deserved it," said Cataldo. "I hope that's not nearly close to the beating he's going to take from you. After I finish my closing argument and I have shown you that I have proven every element of every charge, you come back and say guilty 18 times."
The defense also presented its closing arguments Thursday afternoon.
Kosmala argued that Maslamani is not a murderer. He said Landry was in the company of his client willingly.
"Folks there are no evidence. No. Not circumstantial, not direct, no evidence this man killed anybody. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. There is no gun. There is no eyewitness. There is no particularly good ballistic evidence," said Kosmala.
Kosmala said he believes his client will spend time in jail for the other crimes he is accused of committing, but not for Landry's murder.
"He has always said I did bad things and I did other things but 'I did not kill that boy.' He has said several times, 'I did not kill that boy' and he looked me straight in the eye. Do I believe it? I don't know that's for a jury to decide," said Kosmala Friday.
During the trial, the defense only presented one witness, Eastpointe Police Office Joseph Madonia.
Madonia took a statement from Lawrence Watta, who said he witnessed Maslamani and his cohort, Robert Taylor, 17, abduct Landry outside Quiznos restaurant on Gratiot Avenue near 10 Mile Road.
Taylor is facing six charges.
Madonia said Watta was in an excited state while filing the police report. Under cross-examination, when Cataldo asked Madonia if people can get information wrong when they are excited, the officer said, "yes."
Kosmala said during opening arguments that Maslamani committed the bank robbery and carjacking, but he continued to say that he did not kill Landry.
In closing arguments Thursday, the prosecution said Landry did not go willingly with the defendant.
"There is no drug deal here. Mr. Matthew Landry was in the wrong place at the wrong time when those two decided to carjack him, and kidnap and hold him hostage and that is exactly what they did for hours," said Cataldo.
The jury began deliberating Thursday, nine days after opening statements were heard.
Review Testimony In Landry Case
One of the first witnesses to testify in the case against Maslamani last week was Maynard. She said she was cashing her first paycheck at a Harrison Township bank when it was robbed.
"He was pressing the gun against my head," said Maynard. "He said, he came towards me and told me, he said, ?Come with me or I'm going to kill you."
Jurors heard from Roseville police Officer Andrew Berger about the moments before Maslamani was captured after a carjacking in a Walmart parking lot.
He was one of the officers who testified how they moved in on Maslamani. They said he discarded items during a foot chase, including a gun, that the prosecution worked to link to a carjacking and other criminal charges against Maslamani.
"After he started to flee he discarded a large puffy black wig," said Berger. ?Did you find any rounds in the chamber?? said Cataldo. ?I did,? said Berger.
?And what type of rounds did you find?? said Cataldo.
?There was a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber hollow point in the chamber of the gun,? said Berger.
Jurors have also watched a video of police interrogating Maslamani.
Sept. 24 Jurors in a Macomb County courtroom wiped away tears as Landry's mother, Doreen Landry, took the stand.
Doreen Landry gave details of the snippets of information that emerged in the days leading up to police linking Landry's disappearance and Maslamani's crime spree.
Doreen Landry said the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place when suspicious ATM transactions were made on her son's ATM card at a gas station on Seven Mile Road in Detroit.
Doreen Landry said she was tracking her son's credit card activity online while he was missing.
"I kept looking at Matt's account hoping God, Matt, use your debit card someplace so I can find you," she said before breaking down.
The family did not report Landry missing until the following day. In the hours that followed, the family was visited by Chesterfield Township police and made trips to police stations in Roseville and Detroit, the cities where Landry was last seen and his bank card was last used.
Maslamani was caught three days after Matthew Landry's disappearance.
Police were able to identify Maslamani through surveillance video at the bank robbery and the gas station.
Doreen Landry said she knew something was terribly wrong and demanded the police probe him about her son's death.
"I said, 'No, you will get a detective in there tonight, right now, to talk to him,'" she said on the stand. "I knew it was the start of something and I did not want to go there but I knew we had to."
When the Macomb County medical examiner took the stand to detail exactly how Landry died, Doreen Landry opted to step out of the courtroom.
A man who said he witnessed the kidnapping testified Tuesday morning for more than two hours.
Lawrence Watta said he witnessed Maslamani drag Landry by the neck, in a head-lock type hold, to the back of a car in the Quiznos parking lot. But when Landry refused to get in, Maslamani dragged him to the driver's side seat and hit him in the face, Watta said.
"He flew back, and that was the last I seen of Matt Landry," Watta testified.
Watta said he also saw Taylor on a cell phone during the kidnapping.
Watta said he initially thought the Quiznos was being robbed, so he pulled over and knocked on the restaurant's door. When nobody answered, he drove around, called 911 and saw Landry being abducted.
His 911 call was played in court.
"It looks like a green car. They are hitting him now. They are hitting him on the face. They are beating him up now. Hurry up, hurry, hurry," said Watta to the 911 operator.
He said Maslamani was driving a green Honda Accord, which was later identified as Landry's car. Taylor got in the back and Landry was in the front and then the trio drove off, Watta said.
Watta testified that he followed the vehicle for several blocks -- while maintaining his distance -- as he tried to help police pinpoint the Accord.
"They're going down 10 Mile," said Watta. "That's not the car, no, that's not the car. They just went by, they missed us."
The Landry family in the courtroom appeared shaken when hearing that police were unable to find Landry's vehicle as it drove off.
Another witness took the stand and said he saw the Accord, with Maslamani inside, parked in front of his eastside home.
A Roseville detective who discovered Landry's body in a burned-out house in Detroit took the stand Wednesday.
Lt. Raymond Blarek said he had been searching homes in the 7 Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue area in Detroit, looking for Landry, before he walked into a debris-littered home and saw feet first, then the bottom part of two white legs.
Blarek said Landry was face down, with his feet crossed and a bullet wound in the back of his head.
Also on Sept. 29, testimony focused on ballistics evidence was heard. Defense Attorney Kosmala questioned Michigan State Police experts who admitted that two fired bullet casings found near Landry's body could not be linked to the .40 caliber gun found on Maslamani.
Kosmala first questioned fingerprint expert Steve Nowicki.
"The .40 caliber cartridge case, you found none of this had Maslamani's prints, is that correct?" Kosmala asked.
"That is correct," Nowicki answered.
Kosmala then questioned Michigan State Police ballistics expert Davie Vroman about matching evidence to Maslamani's gun.
"So essentially of all the items sent you, you were not able to match anything to that handgun?" Kosmala asked.
"That is correct," Vroman answered.
Kosmala was also intense in his questioning of Christopher Manning, a friend of the Landry family who months after the killing returned to the house where Landry's body was found.
He discovered a bullet lodged in the wall with a faint trace of Landry's DNA on it. A judge has ruled that evidence inadmissible.
Kosmala asked Manning when he found evidence that police could not detect.
"Possibly a year later," Manning said.
Kosmala then commented on Manning's answer.
"A year later and lo and behold, the magic bullet," Kosmala said.
Copyright 2011 by ClickOnDetroit.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.