Ihab Maslamani bounced from foster homes and institutions, struggled in school, had behavioral problems, was immature and abused when he was young.

But a former foster care worker and a former attorney for the convicted killer testified today in Macomb County Circuit Court that Maslamani tried to do the best he could as a child, even being "fun," "easy to deal with" and "responsive."

They were surprised when they heard he was charged in a three-day crime spree in Macomb County in 2009 that included the abduction and execution-style killing of Matthew Landry, an armed bank robbery and an attempted carjacking.

"I was shocked, very, very much shocked," said the social worker, Jennifer Keller, who worked with Maslamani at least weekly from age 9 to about 13. "I couldn't think that he would have done this."

Daniel Keating, a professor of psychology, psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Michigan, started the day testifying about brain science, such as describing how the brain is like plastic and shaped by experience when people are 12 or 13 years old until their mid-20s. He testified that there is no way to determine, based on brain evidence, if someone is likely to be rehabilitated or not.

Keller testified about Maslamani's stays in and out of foster placements in metro Detroit and how, when he was 10, he decided to stay in the U.S. instead of going to his mother in Lebanon. Keller said he was diagnosed with ADHD, depression and pediatric seizures for which he took medication. She said he got into fights at school, walked out of class and was disrespectful to teachers.

"He was in the minority. He was trying to fit in. He didn't know how to do those things," Keller testified.


Read the full article "Court gets fresh look at kidnapper-killer Maslamani" at the Detroit Free Press.