Death penalty lifted in Ray Abou-Arab case

TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - New developments in the case against Ray Abou-Arab.

Prosecutors have agreed to remove the death penalty as an option as the trial progresses. Abou-Arab is set to go to trail again on April 24.

Abou-Arab was charged with two counts of aggravated murder, each with a death penalty specification, two counts of murder, eight counts of aggravated arson, and one count of tampering with evidence.

The charges stemmed from a fire on January 26, 2014, in a building he owned at Magnolia Street. Authorities say he set the fire. In the process of fighting the fire two Toledo Firefighters died.

Firefighters Jamie Dickman and Stephen Machinski were inside the apartment, doing their jobs to put out the blaze when tragedy struck. Fellow firefighters valiantly fought to help the two firefighters injured inside the building but they didn’t make it out.
One hundred police cruisers, fire trucks, ambulances and private cars escorted the bodies of Machinski, 42, and Dickman, 31, to the coroner’s office.

The community mourned together with a public memorial and funeral mass. Firefighters from thousands of miles away came to Toledo to pay tribute to the Toledo’s fallen firefighters.

An investigation into the Magnolia Street fire that killed the two firefighters led to charges against Ray Abou-Arab, 61. He was accused of setting the apartment on fire. Abou-Arab owned the building.

The case been in the courts for several years. A motion was filed in December of 2016 to dismiss the death penalty specification in the charges against him. Abou-Arab’s attorney argued Ohio’s capital sentencing scheme violates his constitutional rights.

In January the state opposed the motion to dismiss the death penalty in the case.

The incident prompted changes in Toledo Fire Department safety policies and procedures after concerns over communications and lack of a safety officer.