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Jury Finds Egyptian Butcher Guilty

December 11, 2001

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A one-armed Egyptian butcher was convicted Tuesday of murdering and molesting a 12-year-old boy, carving up the body with a meat cleaver and burying it in concrete.

A jury found John Samuel Ghobrial guilty of murder and committing a lewd act with sixth-grader Juan Delgado in 1998. Ghobrial could receive a death sentence in the penalty phase of his trial that begins Wednesday.

Ghobrial, 31, a Coptic Christian, was granted asylum in the United States after telling the Immigration and Naturalization Service he fled Egypt to escape religious persecution. At his 1996 hearing, Ghobrial said several people pushed him under a train, severing his arm.

The verdict came after months of trial delays. Defense attorneys feared Ghobrial would not get a fair trial following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because he is an Egyptian immigrant.

More than half the prospective jurors were dismissed for prejudice against Middle Easterners.

Defense attorney Denise Gragg acknowledged Ghobrial killed Delgado but denied the killing was premeditated or involved sexual assault.

Prosecutors said that Ghobrial had failed to tell INS that he had been arrested on suspicion of molesting and stabbing an 8-year-old cousin.

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