By Ed Runyan
Nasser Hamad is expected to take the witness stand in his defense today on the fifth day of his aggravated-murder trial.
Hamad is on trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, charged with two counts of aggravated murder and several counts of attempted murder. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Hamad’s girlfriend, Tracy Hendrickson, was on the stand Thursday giving her recollections of what she remembered about the deadly confrontation at Hamad’s house Feb. 25.
Because the altercation apparently stemmed from threatening messages on Facebook between Hamad and Hendrickson’s son earlier that day, an assistant prosecutor asked her why she didn’t try to block Hamad from getting the messages.
Hendrickson told Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker that Hamad would not have known how to block someone on his Facebook account, so she would have had to do it for him, but, “We just never did it.”
She gave similar reasons why she and Hamad didn’t seek more help from prosecutors or protection orders when conflicts between Hamad and her family occurred last winter.
“I never thought it would come to this,” she said of the harassment she said her husband and sons dished out to her and Hamad.
“They kept saying and saying they were going to do things, but it never got to that point,” she said of physical conflict. “I never dreamt they would come to our house, ever.”
But after the Facebook threats, her son, Bryce Hendrickson, 20, three other young males and a woman did go to Hamad’s house on state Route 46 in Howland.
When the resulting fight was over, two of the five had been killed by gunfire, and the three others had been wounded.
Hendrickson resumes her testimony today, and Hamad is expected to take the stand later. Prosecutors and defense lawyers expect testimony to be completed today and closing arguments to begin Monday.
Hendrickson told Becker she left her husband, Brian Hendrickson, in late October and got an apartment with her daughter.
She moved back in with her husband and sons for a few days in early February because she wanted to help Bryce with his drug addiction.
Soon after, she left again, and moved in with Hamad.
She filed for divorce from Brian Hendrickson on Feb. 24 and also had restraining orders against her husband and youngest son, Bryce, who was shot in the face Feb. 25. He died Sept. 30 of an apparent drug overdose.
Throughout Tracy Hendrickson’s testimony, Becker asked questions suggesting she and Hamad failed to seize opportunities to end the conflict – by going to authorities.
But Hendrickson said she went to the police and courts and they “never did anything.”
“I’m still being threatened all the time,” she said.
Before she left the courtroom, Judge Ronald Rice announced to onlookers that no one should make contact with Hendrickson and that she should make no contact with anyone else.
She maintained that Hamad was not responsible for the conflict between him and her husband and sons.
When Becker suggested the feuding “went both ways,” she disagreed.
“Not with the threats. Not showing the guns and ‘I’m going to kill you’ and bring my gang and that kind of stuff,” she said. Hamad “avoided them as much as he possibly could.”
Killed in the confrontation was Josh Williams, 20, and Joshua Haber, 19. Injured in addition to Bryce Hendrickson were April Trent-Vokes, 42, who drove the van to Hamad’s house, and John Shively, 17. Trent-Vokes is the mother of Haber and Shively.
Earlier Thursday, Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, county coroner, testified that Joshua Haber, 19, died as a result of a gunshot wound that entered his body from the back, penetrated his aorta and ended in his neck.
The wound would have killed him within a couple of minutes, he testified.
Detective Jeff Edmundson of the Howland Police Department also completed his testimony, discussing two Howland police reports related to the feud between Hamad and the Hendricksons.
One Nov. 6, 2016, police report described Hamad calling 911 regarding harassment he said he thought was coming from the Hendricksons.
Another call came from Brian Hendrickson complaining of threats he said he had overheard from Hamad that day on his son’s cellphone.