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Man serving life for Michigan murder sues to be sent to Israel

DETROIT — A man serving a life sentence for murder in a series of stabbings in Michigan is suing to try to be sent to Israel, his native country.

In a handwritten lawsuit against the U.S. government, Elias Abuelazam said he committed attempted murder in Latrun, Israel, in 2009, months before he arrived in Flint in 2010.

“I have written letters to the Israeli authorities asking them to prepare the necessary warrants and extradition documents to bring me back to Israel where I will stand trial and be sent to prison,” Abuelazam said in a lawsuit filed Aug. 1 in federal court in Grand Rapids.

A magistrate judge last week transferred the case to federal court in Washington.

Abuelazam, a U.S. resident with a green card, was suspected of stabbing 14 people in the Flint area in 2010. Five people died. Victims who survived said their attacker approached them late at night with car problems or to seek directions.

Abuelazam was charged with three murders and six attempted murders. He was convicted of one murder, but no other trials are planned because he’s serving a no-parole sentence and never will be released.

He told experts he was under the spell of demons when the attacks occurred, but a jury in 2012 rejected an insanity defense. In June, the state appeals court affirmed the conviction.

His trial co-counsel, Ed Zeineh, said Abuelazam could serve the Michigan sentence in Israel if that country was willing to take him.

“I don’t believe this is a mechanism to get out from a life sentence,” Zeineh said. “Abuelazam was and is mentally ill, and I believe the structure of the correctional system in Israel is able to better treat mental illness.”

Israel’s U.S. embassy didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Abuelazam, who turns 38 Friday, should stay locked up in Michigan.

“He committed crimes here. The victims were here. The families of the victims are here,” Leyton said. “He should serve his time here.”