After thanking the judge and the jury, Bandar Abu-Karsh looked up and offered another thanks after hearing he was found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the shooting death of a would-be robber.
After deliberating about two hours, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury Wednesday determined that Mr. Abu-Karsh, 29, acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Lamar Allen after a Nov. 21 armed robbery attempt.
Mr. Abu-Karsh was working at the Express Carryout in North Toledo when Allen, 25, and an accomplice attempted to rob him.
The verdict means the jury of eight women and four men found Mr. Abu-Karsh's actions were justified.
"I'm happy for my client and glad he prevailed because he wasn't the bad guy that day," attorney John McMahon said.
"I've watched the comments on social media sites … and they're largely in favor of my client," he added. "They certainly don't know all the facts that this jury knew, but I think it shows that people are sick of all the gun violence in this community."
The jury considered 168 pieces of evidence and testimony from eight witnesses -- including Mr. Abu-Karsh, who testified in his own defense -- before reaching a verdict.
Included in the evidence were about 1 1/2 hours of video recordings taken from 16 security cameras inside and outside the store.
The videos show Mr. Abu-Karsh working at the Mulberry Street carryout when two masked men entered and pointed guns at him. The men took money and merchandise while Mr. Abu-Karsh was ordered to kneel on the floor.
During the incident, which had lasted nearly two minutes, Mr. Abu-Karsh armed himself with the store's handgun and shot one of the men in the head.
The video then shows him shooting Allen two more times with Allen's semiautomatic weapon and exchanging gunfire with the accomplice, who ran from the store.
Mr. Abu-Karsh then locked the door, returned to where Allen lay, and shot him an additional 26 times through the back -- emptying the bullets from the Tec-9 gun that Allen initially carried. The recording shows him kicking the body and hitting him in the head.
During closing arguments, Assistant Prosecutor Tim Braun said that although the incident unquestionably began as self-defense in response to fear, it turned into anger.
He reiterated testimony from a deputy coroner who said that Allen was not dead after the first gunshot wound to the head and asked jurors to find the additional gunshots as excessive.
Voluntary manslaughter is defined as "no person, while under the influence of sudden passion or sudden fit of rage, either of which is brought on by serious provocation occasioned by the victim that is reasonably sufficient to incite the person using deadly force, shall knowingly cause the death of another."
"You had a sympathetic defendant who had been placed in an impossible position," Mr. Braun said after the verdict.
"We were not denying that he was not violating the law of self-defense with his first shot. I think that was justified," he added. "The problem was that there were about 30 more shots in the man's body."
Allen's friends and family members declined to comment. Some shed tears when they heard the jury's findings.
Mr. McMahon said during closing arguments Wednesday that the person responsible for Allen's death was Allen himself.
"If you go into a carryout and take a gun, you're taking your life into your own hands," he said.
Mr. McMahon added that another person responsible was the armed and masked accomplice who entered the store with Allen.
Joseph Hunter was sentenced in March to 32 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter, attempted murder, felonious assault, and aggravated robbery, each with gun specifications. Although he did not pull the trigger, he was convicted in his death because in accordance with the law, but for his actions, Allen would be alive.
"Allen needs to take responsibility for what he did. Also, Joseph Hunter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death," Mr. McMahon said after the trial. "[Mr. Abu-Karsh] was essentially a tool in these other men's actions."
During his testimony Tuesday, Mr. Abu-Karsh told the jury that he was scared when confronted by the robbers and that he was concerned for the safety of a woman who had come into the store.
He testified that he believed both lives were in danger and that he shot the man in self-defense.
Although acquitted on the charges in Lucas County and released by Judge Gary Cook, Mr. Abu-Karsh was once again taken into custody after the verdict for an immigration issue.
Mr. Abu-Karsh , a citizen of Jordan who moved to Toledo in 2007, is in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Contact Erica Blake at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.