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Hamad's attorney alleges hate crimes, asks court to dismiss charges

By Ed Runyan

Thursday, March 9, 2017

By Ed Runyan


The attorney for Nasser Hamad, who is charged with aggravated murder in the shootings Feb. 25 at his home in Howland, filed a motion that says the charges should be dismissed.

Atty. Geoffrey Oglesby of Sandusky contends prosecutors “turned a blind eye” to charges that could be filed against the three survivors.

The filing by Oglesby says the survivors participated in “hate crimes” against Hamad by trespassing on his property, and their acts “would easily warrant charges against them up to and including felony murder.”

Five people went to Hamad’s home on state Route 46 after taunting Facebook messages between Hamad and two of the five people earlier Feb. 25, police said.

When they got there, a fist fight took place between Hamad and John Shively, 17. When it was over, Hamad went into his house, retrieved a handgun, went back outside and started firing at the five as they returned to their van, police said.

Joshua Williams, 20, and Josh Haber, 19, died; two were seriously wounded by the gunfire; and Shively was grazed by a shot, police said.

“The state of Ohio has not pursued charges against the three white Americans and has charged the Arab-Muslim American, and they were all involved in the same altercation,” the filing says.

Hamad also is charged with attempted aggravated murder in the wounding of the three others.

“The five came over as a terrorist group set firmly against Mr. Hamad because he was an Arab and a Muslim,” the filing says.

The filing suggests several other charges that could be filed against the three survivors, in addition to murder. They are breaking and entering onto Hamad’s property, kidnapping Hamad’s girlfriend, Tracy Hendrickson, and felonious assault of Hamad.

A separate filing seeks to disqualify Judge Ronald Rice of common pleas court and the county prosecutor’s office from continuing in the case, saying their roles in handling the criminal complaint filed against Hamad in court puts them in conflict with their duties now.

The same conflict would not exist if a municipal court judge would have determined there was probable cause to bind the case over to the common pleas court, the filing says.

The documents were filed with the court after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, and no response has been filed by the prosecutor’s office.

A hearing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. today before Judge Rice.

The two filings are among nine Oglesby has filed since late Tuesday.

One of the earlier filings asked Judge Rice to restrain deputy sheriffs, county jail corrections officers, social workers, psychiatric personnel and others from “engaging in conversations” with Hamad “relating in any way to the pending charges” or his “character, history and background, without the presence of defense counsel.”

The filing says in “similar cases, county jail personnel, law enforcement officers ... and inmates may attempt to obtain information from defendant in hopes of assisting the state in its case.”

Meanwhile, the first of three hearings is scheduled today in Trumbull County Family Court to hear testimony regarding requests by Tracy Hendrickson for protection orders against her sons, Dylan and Brice Hendrickson, and her estranged husband, Brian Hendrickson.

Family Court Magistrate Alexander Savakis on Friday approved “ex-parte” (meaning one side of the argument) protection orders against the three. The orders are good through March 30.

Savakis also set three hearings so all four parties can tell their side before a determination is made whether to grant a more long-term protection order or no protection order at all.

Dylan’s hearing is today, Bryce’s hearing is Friday, and Brian’s hearing is Monday.

Bryce, 20, is one of the five people who went to Hamad’s house. He suffered serious gunshot wounds in the shooting, according to police.

Brian has described Bryce as “improving” medically at a Youngstown hospital. He has undergone surgery on the roof of his mouth, and has a bullet in his neck, Brian said. He was shot once in the face and once in the arm.

Bryce is also one of the two young men Howland police said engaged in the Facebook taunting before the shootings, police said.

“My son Bryce has a very violent temper,” Tracy Hendrickson said in her protection-order application. “I do believe if he has the chance, he would kill me.”

When reached by telephone Wednesday, Brian denied all the allegations leveled at him and his sons in the applications, including one saying Bryce would hurt his mother. “Heavens no,” Brian said. “That’s so far-fetched.”

Tracy said she believes Dylan is “very angry at me” because of Bryce’s having been shot and his cousin Williams’ having been killed in the Feb. 25 shootings. His “temper is uncontrollable,” she said.

The other survivor is April Trent-Vokes, 42, mother of Haber and Shively. She suffered gunshot wounds to her head, arms, chest and legs. Police said she was the driver of the van that brought the four young men to Hamad’s home.