Nasser Hamad dies in prison

Court proceedings might not end

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Nasser Hamad listens as the jury is given instruction by Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald J. Rice before the start of deliberations during his trial last October. Hamad died Sunday in prison.

WARREN — Nasser Hamad, the man who escaped the death penalty for killing two people and wounding three others outside his state Route 46 home, died Sunday in prison, according to the Franklin County Coroner’s Office.

But the attempt to overturn Hamad’s 36-years-to-life prison sentence might not have died with him.

His attorney, Geoffrey Oglesby, said Monday he will be checking to see what could be done to continue to clear his client’s name. Because the case was being appealed and Hamad died in prison, Oglesby said he will look into a way to get the sentence overturned.

Hamad, 49, was found guilty on Oct. 31, 2017, of two counts of aggravated murder and six counts of attempted aggravated murder in connection to the Feb. 25, 2017, shooting that left two people dead and three others injured.

Killed were Joshua Haber, 19, and Joshua Williams, 20. Wounded in the shooting were Haber’s mother, April Vokes, 43; John Shivley, 17; and Bryce Hendrickson, 20.

Hamad died at died 9:29 p.m. at the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus, a department of correction facility. There will not be an autopsy, according to the coroner’s office.

“Inmate Nasser Hamad’s death was medically expected. The cause of death is tentative pending receipt of the death certificate,” said Sara French, deputy communication chief for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Hamad was diagnosed Jan. 5 with terminal kidney cancer at the Ohio State Medical Center James Cancer Center. The disease spread to his lungs, according to an affidavit filed with a request for his release by Hamad’s brother, Ahmad Hamad, to Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald J. Rice.

Finding Hamad’s case did not meet the requirements for such release from prison, Rice denied the motion in March.

The affidavit stated Hamad was not being given proper care by the prison, and at the time Oglesby called Rice’s ruling “a death sentence.” In April, Hamad was granted permission from federal prosecutors to receive cancer treatments, Oglesby said.

Oglesby said he learned of Hamad’s death Sunday evening.

“This is truly unfortunate. I am a friend of his family and know how upsetting this is for them. He had been battling cancer and did not receive the treatment he should have been receiving because he was in prison,” said Oglesby, who also battled cancer.

“It is tragic that this had to happen. It breaks my heart he did not receive more care for his cancer,” Oglesby said.

The five people who were shot by Hamad arrived at his home in a van and were there to confront Hamad in a dispute involving his girlfriend — Hendrickson’s mom. A feud between Hamad and the victims flared online in social media posts prior to the shooting.

Hendrickson, who had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery and had a bullet lodged in his neck near his spinal cord, died of a drug overdose in October, according to the Trumbull County Coroner’s Office.

Hamad appealed his sentence and conviction in the 11th District Court of Appeals. His attorneys claimed in August filings the jurors in the capital murder trial should have been given instructions on two lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter. The defense also questioned why Rice did not allow an expert witness, who would have supported Hamad’s claim of self defense, to testify, according to the court filing.

On the day of the shooting, according to police reports and trial testimony, the van’s occupants confronted Hamad in his front yard. The confrontation escalated into a fight, during which according to the reports, Hamad, after initially throwing down one of the assailants, was taken down by the others. When he got free, Hamad went into his home, got a gun and started firing at the five who were either in the van or just outside it.

When he ran out of ammunition, reports state Hamad went back inside, reloaded his gun and came back out firing more bullets into the van, reports stated. The driver tried to leave, but the vehicle was stuck in the mud.

It took less than two hours for the jury to find Hamad guilty of the charges.