US court orders Israeli to stand trial for attempted murder

Will be first trial for string of stabbings; Abuelazam was captured trying to flee to Israel, charged with 3 murders, 5 attempted murders.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
November 13, 2010 02:35
2 minute read.
Elias Abuelazam

Elias Abuelazam serial killer stabbing 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Michigan — An Israeli man suspected in a three-state stabbing spree in the US was ordered to stand trial Friday on an attempted murder charge after a survivor of a midnight knife attack described how he desperately fought off his assailant, saying he "almost lost my life."

It's the first case to be sent to trial in the string of summer stabbings. Elias Abuelazam, who was captured while trying to flee to Israel, is charged with three murders and five attempted murders in the Flint area, an attempted murder in Ohio, and suspected in attacks in Virginia.

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During a separate hearing, evidence was offered in another case, the death of Frank Kellybrew, whose slaying in July convinced police that a serial killer was likely on the loose, north of Detroit. A decision on whether there's probable cause for a first murder trial won't come until after prosecutors present more testimony, especially about DNA, on December 3.

"This is an emotional case for all parties concerned," Judge John Conover said.

A few hours earlier in front of a different judge, Richard Booker testified about the night of July 19, when he left home on foot to buy a can of beer. He said Abuelazam asked for help to open a stubborn hood on a Chevy Blazer.

"It all happened in a matter of seconds. He grabbed me around the neck and stuck a huge knife in my liver," Booker said, stepping off the witness stand to demonstrate on assistant prosecutor Tamara Phillips.

"I see him in my dreams every night," he said of Abuelazam.

Surrounded by six deputies and shackled at the belly, Abuelazam, 34, conferred with his lawyers during the testimony.

"I almost lost my life. ... God carried me home or something. I walked or ran," Booker told Judge Richard Hughes, who found probable cause for trial on attempted murder.

Defense attorney Brian Morley wasn't surprised by the decision, noting the evidence threshold at such hearings is very low.

Fourteen people were stabbed — five fatally — in the Flint area from May to August. The victims were alone at night, and some who survived, like Booker, said they were asked for help or directions before being attacked.

Morley aggressively cross-examined Flint Township police Detective Randy Kimes after the officer disclosed that a man known to express racial hatred was briefly considered a possible suspect in Kellybrew's death. The man, however, was ruled out and released. Kellybrew was black.

It was his death that convinced police that a serial killer was in the area.

The stabbing "was something that got law enforcement to say, 'Hey, we've got something here,'" Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said recently. "That one was out in Flint Township. Some of the others had been in the city. ... It became apparent what we had."

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