Jury returns guilty verdict in Howland capital murder case

Nasser Hamad, Howland murder

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – After less than two hours of deliberation, a jury found a Howland capital murder defendant guilty of all of the charges against him.

Nasser Hamad was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder and six counts of attempted aggravated murder with firearm specifications.

This decision comes a week after jurors heard opening statements in the case.

Before Monday’s guilty verdict, attorneys from both sides made their final pitches.

“You are not in fear of your life if you go back in to reload,” said Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Chris Becker.

In closing arguments, Becker told the jury Hamad failed at every level to prove he acted in self-defense that February afternoon when he shot five people, killing two of them and injuring three, after a fight at his Howland property.

Prosecutors said he lured the victims there.

“He was not in imminent danger. He shot someone who had nothing in his hands,” Becker said.

But Hamad’s defense team said otherwise. They maintained that Hamad was protecting himself and his girlfriend when the group showed up at his home and attacked him.

“You need to remember what was in his mind,” Atty. David Doughten said.

The defense team told jurors that after enduring months of threats and considering what Hamad knew of the people taunting him, he had reason to believe he was in great danger of serious bodily harm or death. They stressed that the trial wouldn’t be going on had the victims not come to Hamad’s property.

“It was they that created the situation, not this man, that’s the big picture,” Atty. Robert Dixon said.

Prosecutors said Hamad had been actively involved in a back-and-forth social media feud that started long before the February shooting.

“He lured these people over with more than 80 different messages. It was a plan and he executed it flawlessly,” said Assistant Prosecutor Mike Burnett.

In the end, the jury convicted Hamad on all eight charges.

Phase 2 of the trial will begin either Wednesday morning or Thursday afternoon. Because of the aggravating circumstances of the murder charge, the same jurors could give Hamad the death penalty.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys were unable to comment on Monday because of a gag order.