Nasser Hamad jury deadlocked and sequestered

WARREN — The jury in the capital murder trial of Nasser Hamad will continue deliberating the Howland man’s sentence this morning after they were deadlocked Tuesday night on whether he should get the death penalty.

After deliberating for 9 1/2 hours Tuesday and being unable to reach a decision, Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald J. Rice sequestered the jury of six men and six women at the Best Western Hotel across Courthouse Square just after 9 p.m. He confiscated their cellphones, and the television sets in their third-floor hotel rooms were unplugged.

The jurors were to be awakened at 7:30 a.m. today and will have breakfast before returning to court to continue deliberations at 9 a.m. Rice will have the final decision on Hamad’s fate.

Hamad, 48, was convicted Oct. 30 by that same jury of two counts of aggravated murder and six counts of attempted aggravated murder. The jurors can recommend the death penalty, life in prison without a chance for parole or life with the possibility of parole after 25 or 30 years.

The charges are connected to a Feb. 25 shooting outside Hamad’s state Route 46 home. Killed were Joshua Haber, 19, and Joshua Williams, 20. The wounded were April Vokes, 43; John Shively, 17; and Bryce Hendrickson, 20.

Throughout their deliberations, the jurors broke twice, once for 15 minutes and another for a dinner hour break when they were led by bailiff Kristina Klecha to the Saratoga Restaurant on East Market Street. Three times, the jury foreman summoned Rice and the lawyers in the case to the judge’s chambers to ask legal questions, including twice within the last hour of their deliberations.

In jury instructions, Rice told the jurors that just one vote against the death penalty would take that option off the table. If the jurors continue to deadlock, the judge would have to impose one of the life sentence options on Hamad.