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Published: Thursday, 6/16/2011

Man, 19, gets 13 years for shooting city store owner

Eric Thompson Eric Thompson
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Calling it a "shocking" act in which the evidence against Eric Thompson was "overwhelming," a Lucas County common pleas judge sentenced young Thompson to the maximum of 13 years in prison for trying to kill a North Toledo store owner.

"It is miraculous that Mr. [Mohammad "Mike"] Abaza lives to tell the tale," Judge Gene Zmuda said, noting that he was shot several times standing just a few feet from his assailant.

"Yet it didn't kill him, which I guess was your mistake," the judge continued. "Because with his survival, he was able to … identify you."

Thompson, 19, was found guilty May 24 after a two-day trial of one count each of attempted murder and felonious assault, both with gun specifications. The jury deliberated about 75 minutes before returning guilty verdicts.

Wednesday, Judge Zmuda sentenced him to 10 years in prison for attempted murder plus an additional three years for the gun specification. He ruled that based on case law, the sentence for the felonious assault count would merge, meaning he can be sentenced only on one of the charges.

Mr. Abaza was one of eight witnesses who testified at the Thompson trial about the Dec. 15 shooting that resulted in the store owner being shot multiple times, including twice in the face. The owner of Our Food Market on East Streicher Street, Mr. Abaza said he was familiar with the two men who entered his store that evening and even knew Thompson's co-defendant, Nathaniel Lee, by name.

Lee, 20, is to go to trial Monday on similar charges.

Assistant County Prosecutor Lindsay Navarre told Judge Zmuda that Mr. Abaza said he did not want to see his assailant again and so decided not to attend the sentencing. She said she spoke to him, and "every day, he wonders why someone would come in and try to do this to him."

During the trial, Mr. Abaza identified Thompson with certainty as the man who shot him. In the days after the shooting, he identified him immediately in a lineup at the county jail.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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