The judge in the Nasser Hamad aggravated-murder case tried to rein in the drama Thursday, issuing a gag order that prohibits all parties from discussing facts about the case outside of hearings and court filings.
“The court finds, given the publicity so far, there is a reasonable likelihood of prejudicial pretrial publicity which may impact the ability to impanel an impartial jury,” Judge Ronald Rice said during a hearing Thursday.
His judgment entry, filed just after the hearing, prohibits attorneys, court personnel and “any public official” from disseminating information or giving opinions on the facts of the case.
Hamad, 47, of state Route 46 in Howland, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and several counts of attempted aggravated murder in a Feb. 25 confrontation in his front yard just north of Eastwood Mall.
Police say five people arrived at Hamad’s home at about 4:25 p.m., with the youngest, John Shively, 17, having a fist fight with Hamad. Shively and another man, Bryce Hendrickson, 20, engaged in Facebook taunts earlier in the day with Hamad, police said.
When the fight was over, Hamad went into the house, retrieved a gun and started firing at the five, who had returned to their van, police said.
Killed were Joshua Williams, 20, and Josh Haber, 19.
Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor, filed a motion earlier Thursday asking for the gag order to “ensure a fair trial for all parties involved and avoid a change of venue [to another county] at great cost for all parties.”
Read more about the case in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.