Va. stabbing suspect indicted in Ohio
A Flint, Mich., man suspected of several deaths in at least two other states including Virginia, was indicted by a Lucas County grand jury Friday in the stabbing of a man outside an Old West End church.
Elias Abuelazam, 33, an Israeli citizen living in Flint, was charged with felonious assault and attempt to commit murder. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Abuelazam is a suspect in a crime spree that spans several states and involved at least five men's deaths. In Ohio, 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 that Abuelazam is facing charges of murder and attempted murder in Michigan and that he probably 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 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."
Abuelazam is suspected in the fatal stabbings of five men and in attacks on 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 on Aug. 3, 5 and 6. No charges yet have been filed in Virginia.
On Sept. 20, the Genessee County, Mich., prosecutor filed the first of what is expected to be several murder charges against Abuelazam. He was charged in the death of a 49-year-old Flint man who was stabbed in the chest and abdomen on Aug. 2. Abuelazam was also charged with four counts of attempted murder connected with a stabbing spree.
Bates noted that 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 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," Bates said. "Hopefully we're all working together."
Leno, 59, spent about four weeks in the hospital after the attack outside a church in Toledo, Ohio. His hospitalization included 15 days in an induced coma, and he still requires therapy.
He was on a cigarette break from his job cleaning the Collingwood Presbyterian Church when a man approached him outside the building asking for directions, authorities said. Leno was stabbed multiple times as he pointed to describe the way.
-- Associated Press
| October 9, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories: Crime and Public Safety, Virginia
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