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Published: Tuesday, 5/1/2012

Stabbing-spree suspect to go on trial in Flint


FLINT, Mich. -- Tom Booker had made the walk to a nearby store countless times.

He wanted cigarettes, candy, maybe a can of beer. On his way home around midnight, a motorist asked him to help open a stubborn hood on a sport utility vehicle.

"He wrapped his arm around my neck and stuck the knife in my liver and kidney and twisted it," Mr. Booker said, recalling the attack in a dark empty lot just north of Flint.

Mr. Booker eventually broke free with a hard punch and somehow made it home -- "seems like I floated." While waiting for an ambulance, he rested his head on his wife's chest, his clothes drenched in blood.

"Honey," he told her, "I'm dying."

An Israeli-born drifter is to go to trial today in the stabbing spree that unfolded during the summer of 2010, when as many as 14 people were attacked in the area, five fatally.

Elias Abuelazam is charged with killing a 49-year-old man whose body was found in the middle of a busy street, one of three murders and six attempted murders he's accused of in Genesee County, Michigan.

In addition to the nine Flint cases, Mr. Abuelazam is linked to nonfatal stabbings in Toledo and Leesburg, Va.

Mr. Abuelazam, who has permanent resident status in the United States, was captured in the Atlanta airport while trying to flee to Israel, just days after the last attack in August, 2010.

A victim's DNA was in dried blood discovered in Mr. Abuelazam's SUV and inside his luggage.

If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Defense attorney Brian Morley and co-counsel Ed Zeineh are prepared to offer an insanity defense.

They've lined up an expert to testify about his mental state, but a decision about pursuing that strategy won't be publicly disclosed until trial.

Prosecutors have their own experts who have examined Mr. Abuelazam.

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