Potential Hamad jurors' concerns focused on danger to innocents
Despite the impression one might get from reading the politically charged commentary on the internet about the Nasser Hamad aggravated murder case, potential jurors questioned about it over the past five days had more practical concerns.
Many of the 173 people called for jury duty in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court were asked what they knew about the Feb. 25 shootings in Howland to determine whether they had already formed an opinion about Hamad’s guilt or innocence.
When asked what they remembered about the news coverage they received about the conflict that left two young men dead and three other people wounded, two expressed the same thought: The gunshots fired that day could have hurt innocent people.
“It was disturbing because I or someone I know could have been on that highway,” one potential juror said. He remembered hearing that some of the gunshots Hamad is accused of firing apparently traveled in the direction of the busy state Route 46 commercial district in front of Hamad’s house.
That same potential juror said he doesn’t watch or read the news a lot, but said: “It would be hard to live here and not have heard something about” the shootings.
Another potential juror also remembered hearing shots had been fired toward Route 46.
“I thought that was pretty reckless,” the man said.
In both cases, the men said if they were selected for the jury, they would set aside that or any other information they had heard before the trial and would decide Hamad’s guilt or innocence based only on the evidence they would hear at the trial.
They were not excluded from being among the final 12 jurors and four alternates.
During parts of two days of jury selection, a Vindicator reporter did not hear any juror mention any debate about whether Hamad had a right to defend himself, which has been a hot-button topic on internet blogs.
Hamad, 48, is charged with killing Joshua Haber, 19, and Josh Williams, 20, and injuring Bryce Hendrickson, 20, John Shively, 17, and April Trent-Vokes, 42.
Read more about the case in Wednesday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.