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Son of Cuyahoga County judge charged with murder of his wife; attorney says it was self-defense

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Posted at 3:34 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 19:19:15-04

CLEVELAND — The son of a Cuyahoga County judge has been charged with murder for the death of his wife, but his attorney says it is a case of self-defense.

Omnisun Azali is accused of murdering his wife, Mwaka Azali, inside the family’s Euclid home on Wednesday.

Investigators so far are releasing few details, but Azali’s defense attorney says his client was only defending himself.

“Unfortunately, for whatever reason, she decided to, in that moment, to fire a weapon at him, and his survival instinct took over and he fired back,” said attorney Jeffrey Saffold.

Saffold says Azali picked up the couple’s kids to take their son to a doctor’s appointment Wednesday. He says the children were outside when the shooting happened, and that Azali then drove them to his mother’s house, where, together, Azali and his mother, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams, called 911.

The judge then accompanied her son back to the scene in Euclid, where Azali surrendered to police, Saffold said.

When asked about concerns surrounding the judge’s involvement, Saffold said, “This has nothing to do with the judge, and if somebody wants to say that, that’s somebody speaking foolishly. This has nothing to do with the judge. This has to do with a decorated veteran who has served his country, who was confronted by a woman who fired upon him and he fired back.”

Azali is an Iraq war veteran, according to his attorney.

Bail is set at $1 million.

News 5 left messages with Collier-Williams’s bailiff and a court spokesperson, but so far have not heard back.

Azali was hired as a project manager in Cuyahoga County's IT Department in January after working for the City of Cleveland for nearly four years.