FLINT, Mich. (AP) -- DNA evidence and the opinions of mental health experts are grounds for convicting an Israeli immigrant of murder, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday in the first trial from a series of 2010 stabbings that began in Michigan and stretched to other states.
In closing arguments on the eighth day of trial, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton immediately highlighted the testimony of three experts who said Elias Abuelazam was not mentally ill at the time of the stabbings.
The stabbings, especially the death of Arnold Minor, were "planned, focused, done with care," Leyton told the jury.
Abuelazam, 35, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Minor, who was found crumpled on a Flint street after midnight in August 2010. Police consider him to be the last Michigan victim that summer when 14 people were stabbed in and around Flint, five fatally.
Minor's blood was found in Abuelazam's Chevy Blazer and on his clothes. Leyton noted the odds that the blood on the steering wheel belonged to someone else was "one in 397 quadrillion."
"I didn't know there was such a number," Leyton said.
Abuelazam's only defense has been his mental health. A psychiatrist who interviewed him in jail testified Abuelazam was paranoid schizophrenic and under the spell of violent delusions that compelled him to stab strangers between midnight and 6 a.m. and then speed away in his Blazer.
Defense attorney Ed Zeineh mostly skipped over the blood evidence in his closing remarks and emphasized mental illness. He said Abuelazam showed "psychotic behavior" years ago when he stabbed himself in the neck in 1997 and stabbed a friend in Israel in 2009.
"He would see things, he would hear things," Zeineh told the jury, referring to 2010. "Black clouds, voices in his head. These were consistent. He believed there were evil spirits taking over his body, possessing him."
The jury left court to start deliberations shortly before noon.
To find Abuelazam not guilty by reason of insanity, the jury would have to agree he didn't know his acts were wrong or that he couldn't adapt his behavior to the law. He would remain in custody, but be sent to a mental health hospital -- instead of prison -- for an indefinite amount of time.
Abuelazam also could be found guilty or even guilty but mentally ill, which still carries life in prison without parole.
There was no evidence Abuelazam was under a doctor's care in 2010 or that he was taking any medication for schizophrenia. He spent only a few months in Flint, living in a home owned by his uncle, and had a $10-an-hour job at a liquor store.
Besides Minor's death, Abuelazam is charged with murder in two other slayings in the Flint area and six cases of attempted murder. He's also charged with attempted murder in Toledo, Ohio, and suspected in attacks in Leesburg, Va., an area where he formerly lived.