Offbeat Widow testifies against father in ‘honor killings’ trial

16:23  11 july  2018
16:23  11 july  2018 Source:   houstonchronicle.com

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The Houston woman at the center of two alleged “ honor killings ” testified Monday that her father The young widow told jurors that she and the rest of her family were terrified of her father the death penalty trial of a Jordanian immigrant accused in a pair of “ honor killings ” that shocked Houston.

Prosecutor Jon Stephenson gives an opening statement during the capital murder trial of Ali Mahwood-Awad The Houston woman at the center of two alleged “ honor killings ” testified Monday that her father The young widow told jurors that she and the rest of her family were terrified of her father

A young widow’s words came back to haunt her Tuesday after defense lawyers in her father’s death penalty trial got her to acknowledge she sent threatening messages to both her father and sister.

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Prosecutor Jon Stephenson gives an opening statement during the capital murder trial of Ali Mahwood-Awad The Houston woman at the center of two alleged “ honor killings ” testified Monday that her father The young widow told jurors that she and the rest of her family were terrified of her father

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Nesreen Irsan, 30, spent the day on the witness stand Monday describing the controlling behavior of her devout Muslim father, Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, and how he threatened to kill her and any men she dated.

She told the jury why she believed Irsan, her 60-year-old Jordanian-American father, orchestrated the “honor killings” in 2012 of her husband, Coty Beavers, and a close female friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, a 30-year-old Iranian activist and medical student. She testified her father killed both because they had disgraced his honor by helping her convert to Christianity.

After her best friend was ambushed and killed outside a Galleria-area townhouse, she told the jury her father warned her she was next.

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  Young widow testifying against her father for allegedly killing her husband breaks down on witness stand <p>A young Houston widow whose father is charged in two alleged “honor killings” including the shooting death of her husband, broke down in tears and briefly left the witness stand as she described coming home in 2012 to find her husband dead in their apartment.</p>“I saw him on the floor, I tried to wake him up,” Nesreen Irsan testified. “He wasn’t moving, and he was cold. I just started screaming.

Prosecutor Jon Stephenson gives an opening statement during the capital murder trial of Ali Mahwood-Awad A young Houston widow whose father is charged in two alleged “ honor killings ” including the shooting The 30-year-old took the witness stand Monday and testified against her father , Ali

The jury in the trial of a man accused of committing an " honor killing " nearly six years ago heard opening statements Monday.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Allen Tanner spent an hour cross-examining Nesreen Irsan about threats she made after she ran away from her family’s compound in rural Montgomery County to convert and marry a Christian man she met at a local college.

In a series of long questions, Tanner asked her if she threatened to kill her father or threatened other people in the family. He also asked if she threatened to post nude photos of her sister at area mosques and online in a bid to embarrass her father.

“Did you say, ‘I’m going to let the world know who you are’ and ‘Have a nice life, bitch.’?” Tanner asked.

Nesreen Irsan replied that she cooperated with police who were investigating her husband’s death in November 2012 at the couple’s apartment in northwest Harris County. She said a detective was sitting next to her, coaching her, and the threats she made were an effort to get Ali Irsan to admit killing Beavers and Bagherzadeh.

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“I said it to get him to confess to shooting Coty because I knew he did it,” she said.

After her testimony, Harris County Sheriff’s Sergeant James Dousay took the witness stand and confirmed he was sitting next to the young woman and convinced her to make the calls. He said he did not remember the threats, but acknowledged she was “emotional and angry” when she called her father.

“She was very emotional,” Dousay said. “I remember her saying, ‘You ruined my life. You destroyed my love. You destroyed my life.’”

Dousay, who was the lead investigator in Beaver’s murder, outlined the many leads that police had to chase down. They interviewed Nesreen Irsan three times in the 24 hours after she found her husband’s body.

They also checked her alibi to see when she went to work that day at her MD Anderson research job. Investigators also researched the myriad police reports that Ali Irsan filed against his daughter, none of which proved valid.

As the murder investigation expanded, Dousay also got a DNA sample from Ali Irsan after an interview the homicide detective called “disturbing.”

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Phyllis Chesler argues that the U.S., as well as Canada, do not have proper measures in place to fight against honor killings , and they do not recognize these murders as a specific ^ "Italy – Moroccan Father on Trial for Daughter's Honour Killing ". Archived from the original on 16 October 2014.

“He seemed extremely subdued, almost programmed,” Dousey said.

The detective testified about surveillance video of people leaving the Irsan family’s Montgomery County compound about 4:00 a.m. the day Beavers was killed. The main compound is a three-acre lot with several trailers and farm buildings. Ali Irsan owns two other properties nearby.

Defense attorneys for Ali Irsan have insisted the evidence surrounding both shootings was circumstantial and that no one knows exactly what happened in either case.

However, Ali Irsan’s defense lawyers have structured their questions to show Nesreen Irsan had the opportunity to kill her husband. If she had shot him before she left their apartment, the defense may claim, she could have washed any evidence off her hands and changed clothes.

Prosecutors have said Beavers was fatally shot in his northwest Harris County apartment in the early morning hours of November 15, 2012, just minutes after Nesreen Irsan left for work.

The Nesreen Irsan’s testimony ended Tuesday. During two days as a witness she introduced several pieces of the prosecutors’ case, including how intruders likely got into the young couple’s apartment the day her husband was murdered.

Soon after they moved in, Beavers lost one of their two keys to the door. When Nesreen went to work, Beavers walked her to their car and she took her key with her. Prosecutors will likely argue that someone went into the unlocked apartment while Beavers was walking her to the car.

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Jury in ' honor killing ' trial hears opening statements. Man charged in case involving ' honor killing ' appears in court for final… Ali Irsan's wife is expected to testifying against her husband in this trial .

Amina Ajmal, 23, took the witness stand to testify against her father , Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, who faces life in prison if he’s convicted of orchestrating the so-called “ honor killings ” half a world away. Welcome to our new site. Try 13 weeks for only 99¢. START TRIAL .

That is likely how he was gunned down in his apartment. He was found just inches from an assault-style rifle leaned up against the TV. There was also a .22 rifle under the bed and Nesreen had a .9 mm pistol in her purse. None had been fired.

Coty Beavers, 28, was killed by Ali Mahmood-Awad Irsan. Irsan charged with capital murder of Gelareh Bagherzadeh and shooting Coty Beavers, the 28-year-old twin brother of Bagherzadeh's boyfriend Cory. © Beavers Family Coty Beavers, 28, was killed by Ali Mahmood-Awad Irsan. Irsan charged with capital murder of Gelareh Bagherzadeh and shooting Coty Beavers, the 28-year-old twin brother of Bagherzadeh's boyfriend Cory.

After Nesreen took the stand Monday, the Beavers family issued a statement praising her and noting how unusual honor killings are in America.

“Today Nesreen had the chance to tell her story of how she was stalked, threatened, and lived in fear for years and how her friend and husband were both murdered,” the statement read. “Justice for Gelareh and Coty has been a long time coming and we are glad to see Ali Irsan being held accountable in a U.S. Court of Law. “

They added: “The prosecution has done a commendable job with unpacking a very complex and controversial case and this trial will help to bring awareness to honor killings occurring in America and around the world.”

Prosecutors have worked to build a case to prove that the two slayings were connected by the same scheme. Under Texas law, Ali Irsan can be convicted of capital murder if the shootings were part of the same plan.

The trial is in state District Judge Jan Krockers court and jurors have heard three weeks of testimony.

Brian Rogers covers Houston crime and courts. You can email him at brian.rogers@chron.com or follow him on Twitter at @brianjrogers.

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