By Ed Runyan
Nasser Hamad told detectives late Feb. 25 at the Howland police station he hadn’t been on the social media site Facebook more than a couple of months when “something popped up” on his page that day from Bryce Hendrickson, his girlfriend’s son.
In a videotaped interview played Wednesday for jurors in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, Hamad said Hendrickson brought up issues that had been festering for months related to a feud between Hamad and the Hendrickson family.
Hamad said he didn’t understand a lot about technology, but he responded to the comments. Prosecutors in Hamad’s aggravated-murder trial have shown jurors some of the comments, and they are full of vulgarities and threats from both males.
The trial, in its fourth day, resumes at 1 p.m. today with Detective Jeff Edmundson of the Howland Police Department continuing as a witness.
Hamad is charged with killing two people and wounding three others. If Hamad is convicted of some of the charges, he could get the death penalty.
Hendrickson lived just around the corner from Hamad’s state Route 46 home in Howland.
But a few miles away at the Candlelight apartments off North Road in Warren, John Shively, who had come to Warren 12 days earlier with his mother, April Trent-Vokes, and his two brothers, was watching the back and forth between Hendrickson and Hamad on Facebook.
Shively testified Tuesday he had never met his distant cousin Hendrickson in person, but he had “met” him through Facebook.
Shively told his mother about the vulgar comments and showed her some when she got home the afternoon of Feb. 25.
Trent-Vokes, 42, testified she thought the comments from Hamad were horrible.
She admitted during her testimony Wednesday she suspected the man making the vulgar comments might be Tracy Hendrickson’s boyfriend, but her only desire was to have a face-to-face conversation with the man and resolve the conflict she observed in the comments. Shively also had joined in the postings.
Trent-Vokes and her son both testified they never expected the face-to-face meeting with Hamad to turn deadly. Shively said he wanted to go to Hamad’s house to stand up for his relatives, the Hendricksons.
But the confrontation ended with Hamad firing a handgun about 18 times in his front yard at the minivan Trent-Vokes drove to Hamad’s house near the Eastwood Mall complex.
Two men in the van were killed – Shively’s older half-brother, Josh Haber, 19, and Josh Williams, 20, a distant cousin from Warren.
Trent-Vokes, Shively, 17, and Bryce Hendrickson, 19, were all hit by the gunfire but survived. Bryce Hendrickson died Sept. 30 from an apparent drug overdose at a home in McDonald.
Trent-Vokes said her son, Haber, went with her and Shively in the van. She picked up Bryce Hendrickson on the way to Hamad’s house because he knew how to get there. Williams was visiting Bryce Hendrickson, so he went along, too.
When cross-examined Wednesday by an attorney for Hamad, Trent-Vokes said she didn’t have all those males with her for backup. The reason for the trip was only so she and Shively could “talk it out” with Hamad, shake hands and put it behind them, she said.
She learned on the way to Hamad’s house that Bryce Hendrickson had brought a knife. She asked him to stay in the car and give her the knife. It was near her in the front of the car when they pulled up, she said.
Trent-Vokes testified she didn’t expect a fight that day, but Tony Villanueva, the lead detective from the Howland police, had written in his investigative notes that Trent-Vokes told him the boys in her car “had the intention of fighting [Hamad], and April knew it.”
Trent-Vokes said she didn’t remember telling that to Villanueva. She said she might have said it because she was recovering from being shot at the time. She suffered a head wound and five other gunshots.
Meanwhile, prosecutors played a videotaped interview from the Howland police on Feb. 25 in which Hamad told Villanueva and Detective Mike Yannucci from the county sheriff’s office he was not sorry he shot those five people because of “everything I’ve been through” in dealing with the Hendricksons the past six months.
Hamad, 48, who met Tracy Hendrickson when they attended Howland schools together, told the detectives he’s also been called racially insensitive names “all my life.”
Hamad told the detectives the first two people he saw on his property Feb. 25 was a woman and young male he didn’t know, and the woman got “right in my face.”
Soon he and the male were wrestling, and the three other males in the car joined in “kicks, blows, everything,” he said.
When the beating was over, Hamad went into his house, got his gun and started firing. Hamad said he fired because he heard them say “get the gun,” and he saw one of the males in the back seat with a knife.
“I’m almost positive they had a gun,” Hamad said in the interview.
Authorities, however, said they did not find any other gun than Hamad’s.