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Report: Serial stabbing suspect sane, can stand trial

Thursday - 4/28/2011, 4:38pm  ET

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A court-ordered Michigan psychiatrist has determined serial stabbing suspect Elias Abuelazam -- who is currently facing three murder charges and six charges of assault with intent to commit murder -- is not legally insane and is competent to stand trial, WTOP has learned.

Abuelazam is also suspected of three 2010 non-fatal attacks in Leesburg, Va., and one in Ohio.

The competency report was completed after Abuelazam underwent testing at the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry. The report is sealed.

Contacted by WTOP, the prosecution and defense would not comment.

Earlier, Abuelazam's attorney, Brian Morley, said in court he was waiting for a report by a psychiatrist enlisted by the defense.

If the defense's mental health expert believes Abuelazam was insane at the time of the offenses, a Genesee County (Mich.) Circuit Court judge will hear evidence at a May 26 competency hearing.

Earlier, Abuelazam's attorneys filed a motion notifying the court they were contemplating an insanity defense, which is required under Michigan law.

Hillard Fried, a Michigan defense attorney with The Reeves Law Group who is not involved in the Abuelazam case, says the Michigan insanity defense focuses on whether "due to a substantial disorder of mood or thought, the defendant lacked the capacity to control his behavior, or was unable to comprehend the wrongness of the act."

"The opinion from the forensic psychiatrist is generally in the form of a narrative that takes into consideration the facts in the case," Fried says. "At the end of the report, the doctor gives his or her opinion of whether the defendant is legally insane or not.

"The conclusion may say there are mental illnesses, but ultimately will conclude whether he was insane when the crimes happened."

After a string of attacks centered in the city of Flint, Mich., Abuelazam was arrested in Atlanta in August 2010 as he attempted to board a flight to Tel Aviv.

He is suspected in two stabbings and a hammer attack in Leesburg that took place in August of last year. Abuelazam lived in Leesburg, and still has family in Loudoun County.

Shortly after his arrest, Leesburg police said Abuelazam was also a suspect in the unsolved 2009 Leesburg murder of Jammie Lane.

Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton has said he would seek life without parole for Abuelazam.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)