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New Murder, Assault Charges in Serial Stabbings

Elias Abuelazam is escorted by authorities after arriving on a flight in Flint, Mich., Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010.
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
A Michigan prosecutor has announced a murder charge and four new assault charges against a man suspected in a series of stabbings in the Flint area, Virginia and Ohio.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Monday that Elias Abuelazam is charged with open murder in the Aug. 2 killing of Arnold Minor in Flint. He faces life in prison with no chance of parole if convicted.

Defense attorney Brian Morley says he had expected a murder charge.

Leyton also says he's bringing assault with intent to murder charges in four more attacks. Five men in the Flint area were killed and nine others were injured in a series of stabbings between May and August.

The 33-year-old Abuelazam already had been charged in one attempted murder case and is jailed.

Last month, Abuelazam was ordered held without bond.

Prosecutors asked for a $10 million bond, citing the severity of the attacks and concern that Abuelazam, who is Israeli, is a flight risk. He was arrested on Aug. 11 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as he was about to board a plane for Tel Aviv.

"This is one of 14 incidents of murder and assault with intent to murder. Five people are dead. The rest faced death and are seriously injured," Leyton told the judge in asking for the high bail. "He is not a citizen of the United States. The court should do all it can to make sure he stands trial in Genesee County where he ran rampant, created havoc and attacked innocent citizens."

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell described Abuelazam as a very big man, about 6-feet-5 inches tall and weighing 280 pounds. He said the suspect's large size was part of the reason security was so tight.

Pickell said Abuelazam told him he was concerned about the presence of so many TV cameras.

"I told him he'd have to get used to it," Pickell said. "That's how it's going to be for a while."

The attacks started in late spring, and a pattern emerged after a dozen more men were stabbed between late June and early August. Survivors described the attacker as a big man wearing a baseball-style cap and feigning the need for car help or directions.

The description matched Abuelazam. He grew up northwest of the Israeli city in a small Arab Christian community in Ramle, where he had been a suspect in a screwdriver stabbing earlier this year.

In the U.S., Abuelazam is suspected in 14 attacks in and around Flint, three attacks in Virginia and one in Ohio. The victims were men aged 15 to 67. Most were black, but investigators don't know whether race was a motive.