Shaima Alawadi was brutally murdered by her husband Kassim Alhimidi for seeking a divorce. Yet Alhimidi was smart enough to use the media’s obsession with “Islamophobia” to deflect attention from his guilt. (See links below video)
Answering Muslims (h/t Ann L) After murdering his wife, Alhimidi placed a note nearby saying, “This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist.” The media finally had its proof that criticism of jihad and sharia is a threat to the safety of Muslims, and stories about Islamophobia were splashed across newspapers, magazines, and websites.
Police, however, weren’t as gullible as the media. Instead of jumping to conclusions about bigotry and racism, they examined the evidence and realized that Alawadi was murdered by her husband, not by an Islamophobe.
CBS A jury Thursday found an East County man guilty in the murder of his estranged wife, prompting an outburst by several family members in the courtroom. Kassim Alhimidi, 49, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi. He will be sentenced on May 15. He faces 26 years to life in prison.
After the verdict was read several people in the courtroom began shouting, and at least two people were taken out by deputies. Alhimidi was seen repeatedly shook his head, waved his finger and appeared to be praying.
A photocopied note found about eight to 10 feet from the victim read, “This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist,” leading investigators to initially believe Alawadi’s killing may have been a hate crime.
Prosecutor Kurt Mechals said the defendant, upset that his wife wanted a divorce, killed her by hitting her at least six times in the head with a blunt object as she sat at a computer.
Alhimidi said he was out for a drive when his wife was killed the morning of March 21, 2012, but surveillance video taken from a nearby school showed his van and a dark-clothed person coming and going in the area of the family home on Skyview Drive around the time the victim was attacked, Mechals said.
Alawadi had told relatives she “couldn’t stand” the defendant and had taken out divorce papers, the prosecutor said. “The relationship was in the tank. It was bad,” Mechals told the jury.
The couple’s then-17-year-old daughter, Fatima, told police she was upstairs when she heard a “squeal,” then later what sounded like a broken plate downstairs around 11 a.m. the day her mother was attacked. A pane from a sliding glass door had been broken from the inside, Mechals said.
Fatima — who had stayed home from school — thought her mother had fallen, but paramedics first on the scene said blood and other evidence was inconsistent with a fall. Fatima had been at odds with her Muslim parents for dating a Chaldean, but she had no motive to kill her mother, according to Mechals, who told jurors it was “unreasonable to think she (Fatima) had anything to do with it.”
After his wife was taken to the hospital, Alhimidi asked relatives “what do you think will happen if she wakes up and says I hit her?” Mechals said.
Defense attorney Richard Berkon Jr. told the jury that Alhimidi did not kill his wife and loved her “with every fiber of his being.” Berkon said his client had no motive to kill his spouse and in fact wanted to meet with her family to talk about the possible divorce.
After the murder, the Alhimidi family traveled to Iraq for the burial. When word leaked out that authorities were looking at the victim’s husband as a possible suspect, Iraqi officials told him he could stay in their country for safe haven, but he insisted on coming back to the United States to answer questions, Berkon said. “If you murdered your wife, why come home?” he asked.
When his wife was taken off life support three days after she was attacked, Alhimidi was devastated and asked her for forgiveness, which is the custom in the Muslim religion, according to Berkon.
Police questioned the defendant for more than seven months before getting an unsolicited call in November 2012 from Fatima saying “My dad did it.” Alhimidi was arrested the next day.
A spokesperson with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department says usually there is one bailiff to a courtroom in a case but in a high-profile case like this they staff more for outbursts like the one in the Alhimidi case.
The 17-year-old son was cited for Resisting a Peace Officer. CBS News 8 is waiting to hear back from the judge to see if the son will be allowed in the courtroom when his father is sentenced on May 15.