Defense says Hamad has PTSD, acted in defense

WARREN — The man accused of shooting two people dead and wounding three others outside his state Route 46 home suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when the shootings happened Feb. 25, according to a motion filed in the case.

The motion filed by Nasser Hamad’s attorneys defends their use of a psychologist to testify that their client acted in self defense. Because of “constant threats of death” in a six-month period, plus an assault before the shooting, the 48-year-old was suffering from PTSD, the motion states.

The motion is in response to arguments by two Trumbull County assistant prosecutors that expert testimony to bolster self-defense claims should not be permitted at Hamad’s trial because he is not a battered woman or child.

Hamad is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 11 on two counts of aggravated murder that carry the death penalty and six counts of attempted aggravated murder.

The case revolves around a confrontation between Hamad and occupants of a van that was driven up to his home late in the afternoon of Feb. 25. Hamad and several of the van’s occupants had engaged in taunting and threatening behavior over social media prior to the shootings, according to a Howland police report.

In support of their motion, defense attorneys Robert A. Dixon and David L. Doughten write that when the van drove up his driveway, Hamad did not recognize the occupants, and initially thought it might have been a customer for his business.

“That all changed very quickly when the occupants of the van attacked the unarmed Hamad near his front porch,” the motion states.

Hamad suffered a head injury from being thrown to the concrete, as well as numerous bruises and a sprained wrist, the defense motion claims.

Prosecutors Christopher Becker and Michael A. Burnett, in their motion, paint a different picture of Hamad — someone who boasted to detectives after the shootings about successfully defending himself after he retrieved a 9 mm handgun inside his home and began firing at the group in the van.

Prosecutors also claim Hamad posted on social media before the shooting: “I home (sic) bring your gang I dont need guns for u,” and he gave his address to the group in the van.

Both Dixon and Doughten said they are not arguing for an insanity defense.

“But for the jury to evaluate whether Hamad was subjectively reasonable in his belief his death was imminent, it must understand Hamad’s mental health condition at the time of the shootings,” they wrote in support of presenting Dr. James Reardon as a witness.

No firearms were recovered at the scene where the five people were shot. The defense motion, however, talks about a written death threat left on Hamad’s front porch the night before the shootings. It also states that police found a large hunting knife just outside the van.

Killed in the shooting were Joshua Haber, 19, and Joshua Williams, 20. The three other gunshot victims were April Vokes, 43; John Shivley, 17; and Bryce Hendrickson, 20.

Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice previously issued a gag order preventing court officials from talking to the media about the case.