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Trial to open in Flint killing spree

Tom Booker had made the walk to a nearby store countless times. On his way home around midnight, a motorist asked him to help open a stubborn hood on a Chevy Blazer.

"He wrapped his arm around my neck and stuck the knife in my liver and kidney and twisted it," Booker said, recalling the attack in a dark empty lot just north of Flint.

Booker eventually broke free with a hard punch and somehow made it home -- "seems like I floated." While waiting for an ambulance, he rested his head on his wife's chest. "Honey," he told her, "I'm dying."

Nearly two years later, an Israeli-born drifter goes on trial today in the stabbing spree that unfolded during Flint's shocking summer of 2010, when as many as 14 people were attacked in the area, five fatally.

Elias Abuelazam is charged with killing Arnold Minor, 49, one of three murders and six attempted murders he's accused of in Genesee County.

Survivors said the killer's method was quick and vicious: A muscular motorist more than 6 feet tall appealed for help late at night, plunged a knife into unsuspecting strangers and said nothing before speeding away.

Abuelazam, who has permanent resident status in the United States, was captured in the Atlanta airport while trying to flee to Israel, just days after the last attack in August 2010.

His lawyers will have a difficult time fighting the evidence at trial. Minor's DNA was in dried blood discovered in Abuelazam's SUV and inside his luggage. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Defense attorney Brian Morley and co-counsel Ed Zeineh are prepared to offer an insanity defense, claiming Abuelazam was mentally ill when Minor was killed.

Besides the facts of Minor's slaying, jurors will probably hear from victims who survived. Those stabbings can be offered as evidence because the attacks were similar.