COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A man charged with murdering a local Somali community leader filed to waive his right to a jury trial.

John Wooden Jr., who is accused of killing 48-year-old Mohamed Hassan Adam, filed a motion on Friday asking that instead of a trial by jury to have a bench trial instead.  Wooden faces 11 charges stemming from the December 2021 murder.

In the motion, defense attorney Paul Scarsella states that Wooden would not receive a fair trial by jury due to his criminal history and that presenting prior convictions in this case would be “inherently prejudicial”.

Wooden has previously been sentenced to 18 months in prison for a concealed weapons charge in 1994, five years of community control for felonious assault in 2001, for which he served two years in prison after a probation violation. In 2006, Wooden was sentenced to three years in prison for a robbery he committed in 2004.

Wooden was also sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after robbing an Upper Arlington McDonalds, taking over $3,200. He was released nine months before Adam’s murder, which is believed to have occurred on Dec. 22, 2021 when he was originally reported missing.

  • John Wooden Jr.

On that day, Wooden allegedly shot Adam multiple times and left his body in a van, which was found two days later near the intersection of Joyce Avenue and Windsor Avenue in South Linden.

Police released a video that showed a man driving the van in which Adam’s body was discovered and a $20,000 reward was offered by Central Ohio Crime Stoppers for information leading to an arrest. The driver of the van appears to be wearing a red bandana and white or latex gloves, said investigators. Police said it appeared at some point Wooden and Adam were involved in a business transaction prior to the murder.

Wooden was held on a $2 million bond and faces 11 charges, including murder, aggravated murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, felonious assault, having weapons under disability, unlawful use of a weapon as a violent career criminal and a federal charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Isaiah Brown Miller, 24, was was also charged with aggravated robbery and kidnapping in connection to Adam’s murder and tried separately.