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Suspect in stabbing death of 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin indicted on murder charge

KPNX-TV Phoenix logo KPNX-TV Phoenix 7/12/2019 Michael Doudna, Bianca Buono

a man standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Suspect in stabbing death of Peoria teen charged with first-degree murder © Provided by TEGNA Inc. Suspect in stabbing death of Peoria teen charged with first-degree murder The suspect in a 17-year-old's stabbing death at a convenience store in Peoria is now indicted on a first-degree murder charge. 

A grand jury returned the indictment on Wednesday against Michael Paul Adams in a case that is gathering national headlines. 

#JusticeForElijah was trending online after police said Adams stabbed Elijah Al-Amin in a convenience store because Adams felt "threatened" by the teenager's rap music. 

"Just going to a convenience store and that’s it," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Thursday. 

Montgomery seemed to become emotional while discussing Elijah during an news conference Thursday morning. 

"As a father myself of a 16-year-old, I cant imagine what this young man’s family is going through," Montgomery said.

The initial attorney for Adams claimed he was mentally ill and did not receive care after being released from prison just days before the murder. 

The Arizona Department of Corrections did not list Adams as someone who was seriously mentally ill. 

"The designation of someone who may have a mental illness who may require treatment doesn’t always occur in the justice system because of the wide verity of mental illness people can present with," Montgomery said.

Across the nation, many pushing for #JusticeforElijah want the murder to be charged as a hate crime. 

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery reiterated that there is no criminal charge for a hate crime in Arizona. 

However, the state does allow for enhanced penalties for crimes committed on the bias of a series of factors, including race. 

Montgomery said in a first-degree murder case, the only options for sentencing with a conviction are life without the chance of parole and the death penalty. 

Montgomery said race could be used to help inform the jury why the state is pursing a certain charge and sentence. 

According to Montgomery, his office is currently evaluating whether or not to pursue the death penalty for Adams.

In police paperwork, officers said Adams stabbed Elijah in the neck because he felt threatened by the rap music Elijah was playing. According to the documents, Adams said he has been attacked by minorities who listened to similar music. 

Documents show Adams further stated people who listen to rap music are a threat to him and the community. Police documents quote Adams saying he needed to be “proactive rather than reactive.”

Adams had a history of crime and potential mental issues before his alleged murder last week. 

Court records detail the 27-year-old suspect's lengthy criminal history dating back to at least June 2016, when he was caught with marijuana and drug paraphernalia. 

Two months later, he was charged with another marijuana violation and theft.

In September 2016, Adams was caught shoplifting from a Phoenix Walmart. The arresting officer noted in documents that Adams was "mentally disturbed."

In May 2017, Adams was arrested again after violating his probation. Again, police said he was "mentally disturbed."

Then, in November 2017, Adams attacked a security guard on Mill Avenue in Tempe. Documents say Adams threatened the guard then several other random people with a brick.

In court documents, officials wrote, "History of mental illness. Previously petitioned by law enforcement."

It was after this violent incident that Adams was held at the Lower Buckeye Jail, which is where he assaulted a corrections officer in March 2018.

The following month, the court conducted a mental evaluation. Two doctors wrote now sealed reports about Adams' mental state. The court deemed Adams "competent" but added that he was enrolled with Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care, where he was receiving behavioral health treatment.

“I don’t care what mental health issues you have. You know right from wrong,” Raheen Al-Amin, Elijah's father, told 12 News on Friday.

"I can’t fathom trying to make sense for Elijah's family." Montgomery said. 

After showing emotion, Montgomery was asked if he planned to recuse himself from the case. 

"Oh hell no, hell no, absolutely not."

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