Final pretrial paves way for Nasser Hamad trial Oct. 13

Staff report


The judge in the Nasser Hamad aggravated-murder case wrapped up procedural issues during a final pretrial hearing Tuesday.

Judge Ronald J. Rice of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court ruled it is too soon for him to decide whether a psychologist will be able to testify on Hamad’s behalf.

The judge suggested since there is no likelihood of a plea agreement, the next time the parties will meet in the courtroom will be at the Oct. 11 start of jury selection for the trial.

The ruling on post-traumatic stress syndrome leaves open the possibility that Dr. James Reardon will be able to testify as to whether Hamad was suffering from PTSD on Feb. 25 when he fired a gun at five people, killing two.

Hamad’s attorneys want Reardon to testify Hamad, 48, of state Route 46 in Howland, had PTSD brought on by a fight at his home with the group and from a monthslong feud with some of them.

Prosecutors filed a motion earlier saying courts have ruled that PTSD testimony is permitted only in cases of battered-woman or battered-child syndrome.

The judge’s ruling said there is minimal case law available on whether PTSD testimony is admissible.

In any event, Reardon will not be permitted to offer an opinion on Hamad’s claim to have acted in self-defense because of PTSD, the judge said.

If he were to allow testimony on PTSD, “it would be limited to establish a diagnosis only,” the ruling said.

The appropriate time to rule on the question would be during the trial, the ruling said.

Judge Rice again asked Hamad’s attorneys whether there had been any attempt at reaching a plea agreement.

Atty. David Doughten said Hamad has instructed his attorneys not to pursue any plea agreement.

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