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Published: Saturday, 10/9/2010

Lucas Co. jury indicts Flint man in stabbing case

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Elias Abuelazam, 33, an Israeli citizen living in Flint, was charged with alternate charges of felonious assault and attempt to commit murder. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Mr. Abuelazam is a suspect in a crime spree that spanned several states and killed at least five men. Locally, he is charged with stabbing Tony Leno, whom he allegedly approached to ask for directions before the Aug. 7 assault.

Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates said Mr. Abuelazam is facing murder and attempted murder charges in Michigan and that he likely would stay in Michigan until his cases there are concluded.

"When they're finished with him then we'll bring him here, as I think we should," she said, noting that Mr. Leno's wounds were serious. "If the case is a good case and we have good, solid evidence, then we should go through with it."

Mr. Abuelazam is suspected of fatally stabbing five men and attacking a dozen others in Flint, Mich., between May 24 and Aug. 2. After that, he allegedly headed south. Similar attacks against three men occurred in Leesburg, Va., on Aug. 3, 5, and 6. No charges yet have been filed in Virginia.

The Genessee County, Mich., prosecutor filed the first of what is believed will be several murder charges against Mr. Abuelazam on Sept. 20. He was charged in the death of a 49-year-old Flint man who was stabbed in the chest and the abdomen on Aug. 2. He was also charged with four new counts of attempted murder tied to a stabbing spree.

Mrs. Bates noted that Mr. Abuelazam faces up to life in prison in Michigan. She said that because of the uncertainties of convictions and possibilities of granted appeals in criminal cases, local authorities chose to pursue the case so as to help "keep this man away from the community."

With the indictment filed, a holder will be placed on Mr. Abuelazam so that if he is released in Michigan, he would be transported to Ohio. No arraignment date has been set.

"We're not going to interfere with Michigan," Mrs. Bates said. "Hopefully we're all working together."

Mr. Leno, 59, spent about four weeks in the hospital after the attack, including 15 days in an induced coma. He still requires therapy.

He was on a cigarette break from his job cleaning the Collingwood Presbyterian Church on Collingwood Boulevard when a man approached him outside the building asking for directions, authorities said. Mr. Leno was stabbed multiple times as he pointed to describe the way.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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