Michigan suspends trials in serial stabbing cases


FLINT, Mich. — A man charged in a series of fatal stabbings in Michigan in 2010 won’t face additional trials after receiving a life sentence, a prosecutor said Friday, citing the high cost of bringing each case to court.

Elias Abuelazam, who was charged with three murders and six attempted murders in and around Flint, was sentenced to life in prison following his first conviction last spring. Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said additional trials would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“We have him — life without parole. You can’t do any better than that,” Mr. Leyton said after a brief court hearing, referring to the toughest sentence under Michigan law.

In Toledo, Abuelazam was charged with attempted murder in the 2010 stabbing of Anthony Leno, an Old West End church custodian. Mr. Leno survived the attack but died this year of complications from cancer.

Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates said she would review the stabbing case before deciding whether to seek extradition of Abuelazam.

Relatives of some Michigan victims said they understood the decision to put future trials on hold, although it meant they might never get their day in court.

Mr. Leyton said he will take Abuelazam to trial again only if the Michigan appeals court or Supreme Court finds some fault and upsets the verdict from the first case.

Although the remaining cases technically were dismissed Friday, the prosecutor could instantly revive them without going through the long procedural steps typical when a felony charge is filed.

“In the interests of justice, this is appropriate,” defense attorney Ed Zeineh told the judge.

The next trial would have centered on the death of Frank Kellybrew, 60, who was stabbed when he went to a gas station for soda, a sandwich, and pain medicine.

His brother-in-law Charles McFadden said police still have evidence — Mr. Kellybrew’s blood was on Abuelazam’s shoes — if a trial is necessary.

Mr. Leyton said his decision was supported “100 percent” by the victims he was able to reach. They included Etwan Wilson, now 20, who was stabbed at age 17 and needed 40 staples to close his wounds.

Fourteen people were stabbed in the Flint area, roughly 60 miles north of Detroit, although Abuelazam was not charged in every incident. Five died.

Abuelazam was arrested in August, 2010, while trying to flee to Israel.

He told mental-health experts that he was a paranoid schizophrenic under the spell of demons when he attacked. But experts testifying for prosecutors said they found no mental illness.