Judge sentences Howland murderer, calling his actions ‘foolishness’

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Trumbull County Judge Ronald Rice sentenced convicted murderer Nasser Hamad to a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 36 years. But it’s that possibility that the victims’ families had asked to do without since they said it gives Hamad hope that he could one day be a free man.

“Hope is a powerful thing that can ward off despair. I feel he should not be afforded that luxury,” said Kevin Williams, the uncle of 20-year-old victim Josh Williams.

Hamad was convicted in the shooting deaths of Williams and 19-year-old Josh Haber outside of his Howland home in February. Forty-three-year-old April Trent, 20-year-old Bryce Hendrickson, and 17-year-old John Shively were injured in the shooting.

Hamad maintained that he shot the group in self-defense, fearing for his life, after they showed up at his house to fight him. Prosecutors said, however, that Hamad coaxed the group to come to his house and after shooting at them, went into his house to reload his weapon before going back outside to fire at them again.

Judge Rice agreed that the group had gone onto Hamad’s property but said there was an equal exchange involving Hamad beforehand. He said Hamad could have made better choices, including staying in his house or calling police — even staying in his house after firing the initial shots — but he didn’t do so.

Rice said, therefore, Hamad’s actions couldn’t be considered self-defense.

“It is unfortunate that after 47 years of dedicating yourself to your family and working hard to maintain your own business, you allowed such foolishness to reduce you to such a state.”

Watch: Full sentencing hearing

For the first time this trial, the family of Williams and Haber addressed the court, telling Judge Rice about how much they hurt over the loss of their loved ones. They said the young men never had the chance to grow up and experience life.

“There’s a permanent hole in my family that will never heal and that is our life sentence,” said Kristy Williams, Joshua Williams’ aunt.

“My prayer is for this man to never be out of prison and be able to do this to any other family again,” said Sandra Williams, the victim’s grandmother.

Bryce Hendrickson died eight months after the shooting — not from the injuries he received that day, but from a drug overdose.

One of his family members gave a statement, saying Hendrickson’s overdose was a suicide because he couldn’t deal with what had happened. He said Hamad shot the group because he was upset that he “got his a** beat” in a fist fight.

According to court documents, Hendrickson was upset his mother and Hamad were dating. Hendrickson and Hamad had been involved in an ongoing feud.

But Hamad had a lot to say on Thursday, too, calling the group “gangsters” and saying he lost his freedom because of them.

“I hope karma comes,” he said.

Hamad said he doesn’t have a criminal record and “did his best to avoid these people,” adding that he made numerous calls to police about ongoing threats made by the group.

He talked about feeling deceived by his lead counsel and his plans for an appeal.

“I really believe that the lies is gonna come out,” Hamad said.

Thursday, Hamad also bashed Trumbull County’s Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker before his sentencing, saying he spread lies during the trial.

“Everything Mr. Becker said was either lies, trickery, or deception.”

Hamad added he wasn’t represented properly by his attorneys.

On Wednesday, the jury recommended that Hamad serve life in prison with a chance of parole after 30 years. The additional six years are for gun charges the jury didn’t deliberate on.