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Cuyahoga County jury in Cleveland finds judge's son guilty of murdering his wife....The son's son testified at trial and was the smoking gun in the case....Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinnewsblog.com, Ohio's Black digital news leader

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Pictured is Omnisun Azali

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com Tel: 216-659-0473 Email: editor@cleve;andurbannews.com

By Kathy Wray Coleman, associate publisher, editor-in-chief

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Following a two week trial before visiting and retired judge Patricia Cosgrove and after jury deliberations that began Thursday morning and lasted 10 hours, a  Cuyahoga County common pleas jury in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday found the son of a Black common pleas judge guilty of killing his wife in May of last year and of several other charges

 

Omnisun Azali, 36 and of Euclid, faces 15-years to life on the murder conviction alone when he is sentenced on Dec. 14.

 

An appeal is likely, sources said Friday.

 

A county grand jury previously indicted Azali on aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault, and several other felony charges. The common pleas jury, on Friday, convicted him of all but the aggravated murder charge, finding that the murder was not calculated or pursued with prior intent. He had been free after posting 10 percent of a $900,000 bond after arraignment and was handcuffed and taken into custody after the jury convictions.

 

The county medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.


Azali testified at trial that he shot his wife, Mwaka Azali, three times in the head in self-defense because she pointed a gun at him and that prior to doing that she had shot three times in the house with the same gun. He told jurors that his wife had argued with him and had punched him in the face before he shot and killed her.

 

He continued testifying and said that after killing his wife he contacted his mother by phone rather than initially calling police and then left the home with the couple’s two children and drove to the home of his mother, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams. She later called 9-1-1 and then road with him back to the couple's Euclid home where police met them and arrested him on murder and other charges. He was later indicted by a county grand jury.

 

The office of Summit County Prosecutor Sherry Belwin- Walsh prosecuted the case for the state in place of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley because Collier-Williams is a Cuyahoga County judge. Also, the judge's colleagues on the bench refused to hear the case, saying, like O'Malley, that it would be a conflict of interest.

 

Judge Cosgrove, the retired visiting judge who presided over the case, was assigned by the Ohio Supreme Court after Collier-Williams' judicial colleagues bowed out.

 

The case was intriguing from the start because it involved murder charges against the son of a sitting judge.

 

Defense counsel Jeffery Saffold, Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland-Saffold’s son who won election to the common pleas bench in November, said in opening statements that the shooting was in self-defense and that Mwaka Azali was reaching for a pistol when Omnisun Azali shot her with his own gun. Saffold was hired as a potential defense counsel before the judge's son was even charged and arrested by Euclid police, prosecutors said at trial, though that is not, in isolation, illegal.


Authorities found two guns in the home where the murder occurred, including a .380 caliber handgun next to Mwaka Azali’s body, the latter gun of which had her DNA on the trigger, investigators said at trial.

 

Prosecutors argued at trial that Mwaka Azali’s wounds and two bullet holes found in the home were inconsistent with self-defense and accused the judge, who took the stand at trial, of a cover-up of her son’s murder of his wife. Prosecutors told jurors that the judge called attorney Saffold, who later enter an appearance in the case for the defendant, and then waited 15 minutes to call 9-1-1 after her son and the couple's children arrived at her home after the murder. The judge, however, kept her composure under intense questioning from prosecutors and testified that she acted in her best judgment.

 

Police found bullet holes in the wall that were fired from Mwaka Azali’s .380-caliber pistol, which was found on the ottoman next to her body on the couch. But that was not enough for the jury to acquit the judge’ s son, particularly after prosecutors called the couple's two children, an eight-year-old son and nine year-old daughter, to the stand at trial and the son testified that he saw his father point the gun at his mother and that his mother did not have a gun. In fact, the testimony of the judge’s grandson was the smoking gun that broke the case wide open, sources said after trial.

Neither of the defendant's two young children witnessed the tragic murder their mother, who struggled with mental health issues, defense counsel said at trial.

Domestic violence relative to the couple was no secret, sources said

Collier-Williams is currently one of three Black judges on the 34-member largely White general division common pleas bench in Cuyahoga County, Ohio's' second largest of its 88 counties and a county that includes the majority Black city of Cleveland and is a Democratic stronghold.

By Kathy Wray Coleman, associate publisher, editor-in-chief (Coleman is a former biology teacher and a seasoned Black journalist, and an investigative, legal, scientific, and political reporter who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio).

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 December 2022 17:51

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The annual11th Congressional District Caucus Parade is Monday, September 2

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