Judge halts Ray Abou Arab trial due to misstep; jury released for the night

Judge halts Ray Abou Arab trial due to misstep; jury released for the night

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - An unexpected moment during testimony in the trial against Ray Abou Arab has put a halt on proceedings.

Just before 3 p.m., a TPD detective was on the stand and being questioned by the defense. He divulged information the jury was not suppose to hear.

Judge Stacy Cook asked then asked the jury to leave the courtroom.

"We're doing some additional research on a matter," Judge Cook said, "and we have obviously kept you in the jury room waiting during this time given the fact that we were not able to conclude."

The defense was meeting with Ray Abou Arab, his family, state attorneys, members of Toledo Fire Department to determine how to move forward with the case.

The Judge Cook has yet to make a ruling on whether to move forward with the trial. She released the jury just before 5:30 p.m. for the day. They will return to the courthouse Thursday morning.

The judge has several options to weigh.

First, Judge Cook could immediately declare a mistrial. She could continue the trial if she deems the information will not affect jurors. She could also continue on with the trial and later determine if a mistrial declaration is necessary.

The misstep Wednesday afternoon was the latest development in one of the most emotional days yet in the trial.

Since the beginning of the Ray Abou Arab murder trial, the families of Stephen Machcinski and Jamie Dickman, have been present every minute.

But Wednesday morning was different as the families of the victims chose to stay out of the courtroom to avoid the disturbing testimony that took place.

Graphic autopsy pictures that showed the severe burns across the firefighters' bodies were shown and a detailed explanation about their deaths were told to the jury.

Dr. Cynthia Beisser was the coroner who performed the autopsy on the men and explained that they both did not die instantly. After the autopsy, she determined that they both died from extensive thermal burns and exposure to carbon monoxide.

Beisser also said Machcinski had double the percentage of carbon monoxide in his body compared to Dickman.

"Well it could be that he was in an area where there was more smoke, his gear could've compromised sooner or he could've just lived a little longer. Again there are variables, its hard to tell specifically," she explained.

Both deaths were ruled as homicides after dying while fighting an arson fire.

A financial expert who examined Ray Abou Arab's financial records also took the stand Wednesday morning.

He told the jury it appeared that the defendant was spending more than he was bringing in and only had about $400 at the time of the fire.

The financial expert's testimony was important to the state because it gives the jury a reason to believe that Abou Arab may have started the fire to possibly collect insurance money.

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