FLINT, Mich. - A man suspected of fatally stabbing five men and wounding nine others in and around a Michigan city two summers ago was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder in the first case to go to trial.
Jurors rejected the insanity defense put forth for Elias Abuelazam, finding him guilty of stabbing 49-year-old Arnold Minor in August 2010 and leaving him to bleed to death after midnight on a Flint street. He faces life in prison without parole.
The stabbings terrorized the working-class city that summer and befuddled police. Investigators say Abuelazam chose victims at random, and would approach them at night asking for directions or for help with his Chevy Blazer before stabbing them.
Minor’s stabbing and the others were “planned, focused, done with care,’’ Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton told jurors earlier Tuesday.
The prosecutor highlighted the testimony of specialists who said Abuelazam was not mentally ill at the time. It took jurors about two hours to agree.
Authorities say Minor, a handyman who played guitar, was the last of Abuelazam’s Flint-area victims.
He has not been charged in every case, but Abuelazam is charged with murder in two other attacks and with attempted murder in seven more, including one in Toledo, Ohio.
During the eight-day trial, Minor’s family members held a box of his ashes while they listened to prosecutors lay out a strong case against Abuelazam. Minor’s blood was found in Abuelazam’s sport utility vehicle and on his clothing, and several stabbing survivors took the stand and identified Abuelazam as their attacker.
“It’s been 658 days - I’ve been counting,’’ Minor’s sister, Stephanie Ward, said after the verdict. “He’s going where he needs to be. He’s not crazy.’’