An Akron man is facing life in prison, but not the death penalty, for the shooting death of a University of Akron student during a robbery at a North Hill pizza shop.

After hearing evidence from defense attorneys, Summit County prosecutors opted against pursuing a capital case against Shaquille Anderson — a move supported by the victim’s family. Anderson, instead, was indicted on aggravated murder, robbery and other charges that could carry a life sentence in prison.

This was part of a process that Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh’s office started last July to allow defense attorneys to present potential mitigating evidence that could make a life sentence more appropriate than a death sentence. The procedure started with Stanley Ford, an Akron man accused of starting fires that resulted in the deaths of nine of his neighbors. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Ford, whose case is still pending.

Anderson, 24, is accused of shooting and killing Zakareia “Zak” Husein, 21, during a Dec. 7, 2015, robbery at Husein’s family business, Premium New York Style Pizza, 380 E. Glenwood Ave.

Akron police, with help from the FBI, identified Anderson as the suspect last July. He was already in prison for several robberies committed after Husein’s death.

Anderson was eligible for the death penalty, because Husein was killed during the commission of a robbery.

Instead, a Summit County jury indicted Anderson on charges of aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery and having a weapon under disability, which means he wasn’t permitted to have a firearm because of a prior conviction. The charges include specifications for having a gun and being a repeat offender, but not a death penalty specification.

“As in all cases of this magnitude, justice for the victim and his family is our main priority and our office obtained information from multiple sources in conducting our charging decision,” Walsh said in a prepared statement. “Under the law, Shaquille Anderson faces a possible sentence of life without parole.”

Andrea Whitaker and Brian Pierce, Anderson’s attorneys, who recently presented evidence to four assistant prosecutors, were pleased that prosecutors decided to pursue a life prison sentence rather than the death penalty. The attorneys declined to say what evidence they shared with prosecutors on Anderson’s behalf.

“We were happy the state made what we thought was the appropriate decision and declined to indict on a death penalty specification,” Whitaker said.

Anderson agreed to waive his right to a speedy trial to permit his attorneys to present mitigating evidence. He pleaded not guilty during a video arraignment Wednesday morning from the Summit County Jail.

Magistrate Kandi O’Connor ordered Anderson to have no contact with Husein’s family. She set his bond at $100,000, although he wouldn’t be released because he’s serving a prison sentence that runs until 2037. He was transferred from prison to the jail because of the new case.

Anderson’s murder case has been assigned to Judge Alison McCarty. He has a pretrial hearing at 8:30 a.m. June 20.

The prosecutor’s office has been criticized by prominent defense attorneys for continuing to pursue capital cases despite an unwillingness of juries to recommend the death penalty. Of Summit County’s last 10 capital cases since 2014, only one drew a death sentence. The rest resulted in life sentences.

Summit followed the lead of other large Ohio counties, including Cuyahoga and Montgomery, that permit defense attorneys to present evidence before deciding whether to pursue the death penalty.

Husein’s family members, who are Muslim, supported the decision to not seek the death penalty.

“Our faith is a factor in a lot of our decisions,” said Ammar Husein, Zak’s brother. “I don’t think we’re eligible as humans to decide the death penalty for any person.”

The death of Husein, who was studying international business at UA, touched many, with water wells dug in Nigeria in his name and an annual event created in his honor to package meals for Rise Against Hunger that has resulted in the distribution of thousands of meals worldwide.

Ammar Husein said Zak never got into a fight or had any brush with violence until his shooting. He said his brother even maintained his sunny disposition in the ambulance, joking with a paramedic who asked how he was doing.

“It’s been a good day,” responded Zak Husein, who perished from his wound. “Then, I got shot.”

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.