Jury declines death penalty sentence for Nasser Hamad - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Jury declines death penalty sentence for Nasser Hamad

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WARREN, Ohio -

The jury that convicted a Howland man of killing two people and wounding three others has decided how he will be punished for the crimes.

Deliberations picked back up Wednesday morning in the penalty phase of the Nasser Hamad murder case.

After approximately 10 hours of deliberating on Tuesday and Wednesday jurors returned a verdict saying that the prosecutors had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravated circumstances outweighed the factors surrounding the deadly shooting. 

The jury declined a death penalty sentence and instead suggested life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years on the two aggravated murder charges. 

Judge Ronald Rice will take the jury's recommendation under consideration. 

Hamad and his attorneys will return to the courtroom one more time on Thursday afternoon to hear Judge Rice's sentence. 

Hamad was convicted of on two charges of aggravated murder, and several counts of attempted aggravated murder last week following his trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Following Wednesday recommendation from the jury, attorneys on both sides were finally able to speak out regarding the case. 

Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Chris Becker says that they will ask the Judge to make the sentences consecutive- meaning that Hamad would not be eligible for parole hearings for at least 60 years. 

Becker said that the Prosecutor's Office is very happy with the decision of the jury. 

"The hard part was to determine what penalty to give the defendant in this case," said Becker. "Speaking to the jurors, I know they advised me that at one point they were 9 to 3 in favor of the death penalty. And it's a difficult to make for any jury to impose the death penalty."

Hamad's attorneys said they plan to appeal the case and will attempt to file charges against victims. 

Investigators say Hamad fatally shot 19-year-old Josh Haber and 20-year-old Joshua Williams during a confrontation outside his Niles-Cortland Road home on February 25.

Forty-three-year-old April Trent and 20-year-old Bryce Hendrickson were seriously injured in the shooting. A 17-year-old boy was not seriously harmed.

One of the hot-button issues of the case was the incidents that lead up to the shooting in February, particularly many have questioned why Trent, who allegedly drove the van full of young men to Hamad's house, was not charged. 

Speaking after the reading of the verdict, Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Chris Becker told 21 News that the Prosecutor's Office has no plans to charge Trent or the other surviving victims of the shooting. 

"There's a host of reasons why they're not charged," Becker explained. "First of all, remember we have to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt. If their intent was to go over there for a misdemeanor fistfight, which that's not even certain because if you listen to the testimony of April Trent she just wanted to talk to the defendant about the acts. Second of all, it became clear during the trial that the fistfight started when the defendant grabbed John Shively and threw him down. So the first problem is 'what are you going to charge them with?'. Certainly, they would not have gone over there if they knew he was going to come out and shoot at them five times." 

Becker continued saying, "The other thing is, and I've heard this for months, 'why don't you charge everyone, why don't you charge everyone?' There's a very simple answer why you don't charge everyone. If you charge everyone they all have a fifth amendment right, they all have a right to an attorney, and if the defendant does not waive his right to a speedy trial time, and we call these other witnesses who are now defendants, their attorneys are obviously going to tell them not to testify."

"Even more importantly, is Attorney Burnett brought this up in the first phase, the reason we have people charged with crimes is to punish them. Don't you think April Vokes has been punished enough? She was shot six times, including the head, she's still suffering wounds. She had to literally watch her son die in front of her and take his last breath. Her other son was shot in this matter. John Shively was shot in the back. Bryce Hendrickson was shot in the mouth."

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