17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin was reportedly stabbed to death by 27-year-old Michael Paul Adams on Thursday morning outside a local convenience store in Peoria, Arizona. The man allegedly attacked because he heard the victim listening to rap music in the parking lot. The crime is reminiscent of the murder of Jordan Davis in 2012 in Jacksonville, Flordia.
According to Fox 10 Pheonix, police say that Elijah was inside the Circle K store when Adams came up behind the teen and slit his throat. Once authorities found Adams near the Circle K and noticed a pocket knife and blood on his clothing, he allegedly told detectives “rap music made him feel unsafe because, in the past, he was attacked by people who listened to that music genre.”
The purported murder happened two days after the suspect was released from prison. Adams reportedly told detectives he “needed to be proactive than reactive and protect himself and the community from the victim.”
Adams reportedly has a history of mental illness. Jacie Cotterell, Adams’ attorney, says the Arizona Department of Corrections released him without medication or courtesy ride to mental health services despite knowing he had a problem.
Cotterell told reporters Adams shouldn’t get prison but treatment for his illness. Cotterell slammed Arizona’s corrections system, saying that her client had been, ”set up for failure,” because he wasn’t given the means to access mental health services. Adams had a lengthy criminal history prior to this incident, including non-violent offenses such as theft, shoplifting, drug possession, and disorderly conduct, as well as violent felonies including assault with a weapon and aggravated assault of a correctional employee.
Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux issued a statement that Adams “was not designated seriously mentally ill.”
Adams is now being held on bond at the Maricopa County jail on suspicion of first-degree premeditated murder. Since Elijah El-Amin’s death, public debate has broken out over the appropriateness of mental illness as a defense in what appears to be a race-motivated crime.
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