from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Lisa F. Borges,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G04-1605-MR-20444
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Lisa M. Johnson Brownsburg, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Jesse R. Drum Deputy Attorney General
Akram Abd appeals his convictions for one count of
Murder and one count of Level 5 Felony Robbery,
arguing that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the
convictions; (2) the trial court improperly admitted
character evidence when its prejudicial effect outweighed its
probative value; and (3) the trial court erroneously provided
an incomplete jury instruction. Finding that the evidence was
sufficient and that there was no fundamental error regarding
the evidence and the instruction, we affirm.
Mohamed Mahmoud, the victim in this case, owned a tax
preparation business in Indianapolis called Taxesmart.
Mahmoud attended the same mosque as Abd's father, Ziad
Abd (Ziad), and helped him and Abd file their tax returns. In
2013, Ziad reported an income of $17, 960, and Abd reported
no income. In 2014, Ziad and Abd reported incomes of $9, 600
and $9, 905, respectively. In 2015, Ziad and Abd reported
incomes of $9, 558 and $10, 077, respectively.
Abd and Ziad lived in the Sawmill Apartments complex in
Indianapolis. Ziad was financing a black 2012 Toyota Camry,
and Abd was financing a white 2012 Ford Taurus. The two were
consistently late on rent, electric, and car payments for
their entire stay. Additionally, Ziad and Abd maintained bank
accounts with consistently negative balances.
On February 3, 2016, Ziad and Abd were evicted and charged
$3, 881.37 for repairs and cleaning. The landlord stated that
"[t]he apartment was very dirty" and that they had
to "treat for roaches" and "double-coat the
apartment for paint" because Ziad and Abd smoked. Tr.
Vol. VII p. 61. The landlord also testified that Ziad and Abd
were "pretty aggressive and verbally abusive" when
he communicated with them. Id. at 52. Ziad and Abd
later moved to the Cherry Glen Apartments complex, where they
faced the same financial issues.
On April 12, 2016, Ziad bought Duck Brand duct tape from
Wal-Mart. On April 20, 2016, at around 11:19 p.m., Abd and
Ziad drove and parked the white Ford Taurus in a school
parking lot directly across the street from Taxesmart. A
school employee notified police of a suspicious vehicle on
the premises, and an officer was dispatched to the scene. At
11:37 p.m., Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
Officer Daniel Eacret approached Ziad and Abd, who had exited
the car, and asked them what they were doing. Abd said they
were going to a nearby gas station, which they ultimately
did. After Ziad and Abd returned to their vehicle and drove
away, Officer Eacret left the scene at 12:18 a.m.
At 1:37 a.m., Mahmoud closed Taxesmart and left the building.
At 1:52 a.m., a white car arrived at the Airport Office
Center in Indianapolis. At 2:09 a.m., the same white car and
a black car left the Airport Office Center. At approximately
2:18 a.m., an individual unlocked the Taxesmart doors,
entered the building, and left a fingerprint on Mahmoud's
safe. Later reports revealed that the fingerprint partially
matched Abd's. The individual promptly left at 2:19 a.m.,
carrying something in his left hand. Cell phone records
indicate that Ziad and Abd's phones may have been near
Taxesmart on April 21, 2016, between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.
Additionally, the records show that the phones travelled in
separate vehicles on that same day to Detroit, Michigan, and
then back to Indianapolis a few days later.
On the morning of April 21, 2016, an Airport Office Center
employee discovered Mahmoud's body near a dumpster and
called the police. A purple pillow case covered Mahmoud's
head and was duct-taped around the neck. The pillow case was
full of a "brown substance" (feces), which an
autopsy later revealed was completely occupying and blocking
Mahmoud's mouth, nose, and airways. Tr. Vol. III p.
131-32, Vol. IV p. 152. That same day, Mahmoud's friends
visited Taxesmart to look for him after he did not show up to
mosque. They discovered that the lights were on, the safe was
open, Mahmoud's keys were on the floor, and the security
keyboard was hanging by its wires. They called the police.
On April 25, 2016, Abd purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer for $4,
274.65 in cash and paid Cherry Glen Apartments $1, 073. From
April 27-28, 2016, Ziad sent $3, 500 to Iraq (his home
country) and later paid Cherry Glen Apartments $765. On May
3, 2016, Ziad bought a house in Detroit for $35, 679.52 in
cash and paid the remaining balance ($4, 700) on his Toyota
On May 25, 2016, the police arrested Ziad and Abd. The police
discovered $5, 322 in Ziad's pocket and $270 in Abd's
wallet. Additionally, in Ziad and Abd's apartment, the
police found that there were two pillow cases missing from a
bed set with colors matching the colors of the pillow case
found wrapped around Mahmoud's head. On July 26, 2016,
the State charged Abd with murder, felony murder, and Level 2
felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. The State
jointly tried Abd and Ziad from February 12-22, 2018.
At the jury trial, neither Abd nor Ziad objected when the
landlord for Sawmill testified to the condition of the
apartment after they were evicted. Also, neither objected
when the same landlord testified about their verbally abusive
and aggressive behavior. At the conclusion of the trial, the
trial court provided the jury with the following instruction:
If the evidence lends itself to two reasonable
interpretations, you must choose the interpretation
consistent with the Defendant's innocence. If there is
only one reasonable interpretation, you must accept that
interpretation and consider the evidence ...