Death penalty still a possibility in case against accused Howlan - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Judge denies Nasser Hamad's defense motions

Death penalty still a possibility in case against accused Howland murderer

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HOWLAND, Ohio -

A Trumbull County judge has ruled that the capital murder case against Nasser Hamad will continue with a possible death penalty. 

Judge Ronald Rice issued rulings on nine separate motions on Wednesday, denying nearly all of them. 

Hamad has pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges for the deaths of two people and the wounding of three others in a shooting outside his home in February.

Of the rulings, Rice denied Nasser Hamad's attorneys motions from July, asking that the death penalty be taken out of consideration and that the trial be moved to a different county. 

Three separate motions filed by the defense attorneys pertained to the death penalty specification, and capital punishment possibility. One argued that there was an error in the original indictment, another argued about the specification of the charges as "aggravated", and a third claimed that the death penalty specification is a violation of constitutional rights. 

All three of those motions were turned down by the judge. 

Judge Rice also rejected a motion asking that the trial be moved out of Trumbull County. Defense attorneys previously argued that the pre-trial publicity would taint the jury pool. However, Judge Rice in his ruling said that it would be premature to move the trial. 

An additional motion was also denied regarding the burden of proof. Hamad's attorneys have argued that it is unconstitutional that the burden of proof should rest with Hamad to prove self-defense. 

Hamad has claimed that the shootings were done in self-defense, following a fight with younger men outside his home.  

Prosecutors say any threat of imminent danger was abated when he retreated into his home where he could have called 911. But instead, he came back outside with a gun and shot the victims as they were attempting to leave the scene.  

Judge Rice also turned down requests that the prosecutors should have to disclose any evidence as to why the charges of murder were specified as "aggravated",  and to transcribe and seal transcripts from the grand jury proceedings. 

Throughout the course of Hamad's pretrial, both the defense and prosecuting attorneys have voiced complaints about the process of sharing evidence. In response to those complaints, Judge Rice ordered that the prosecutors and the defense attorneys must sit down sometime before September 19th in order to share any police reports from Howland Police regarding Hamad. 

Rice also approved a motion filed by the prosecutors asking that the defense turn over all information found during their investigation into the case. 

Hamad's jury trial is set to begin in October. 

The full copies of Judge Rice's rulings can be found here: 

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