MURRIETA, Calif. – A self-described polygamist was convicted Wednesday of charges that he starved, tortured and abused his two wives and many of his 19 children and stepchildren.
A Riverside County Superior Court jury found Mansa Musa Muhummed guilty on 25 counts, including torturing seven of the children, abusing 12 of them and falsely imprisoning the wives. He faces seven life sentences.
Muhummed, 55, shook his head as the verdict was read, prosecutor Julie Baldwin said.
His wives and children were not present in court but they plan to attend his sentencing, which is scheduled for August 1, she said.
Muhummed, whose birth name was Richard Boddie, told authorities that his Muslim faith gave him the right to take multiple wives. He was arrested in 1999 after one of his wives, Laura Cowan, managed to slip a 13-page letter to a postal service worker describing the abuse.
His trial started last month after nine years of legal wrangling in which he changed lawyers four times and represented himself for more than two years.
The trial delays may have hurt his case because his children were reluctant to talk to authorities soon after he was arrested.
Once the case went to trial, a string of his children and stepchildren, now adults, also took the stand, telling the jury that they had been beaten, starved, strung up by their feet and forced to eat vomit and feces.
Muhummed testified in his own defense. On the stand, in sometimes tearful testimony he denied the charges and blamed one of his wives for the alleged abuse.
He said that his children and stepchildren ate three regular meals a day except during the holy month of Ramadan, when the older children ate two meals — one before dawn and one after sunset.
Doctors said the children were extremely malnourished. A 19-year-old daughter was 4-foot-1 and weighed 56 pounds.