Prosecutors reportedly rested their case Wednesday in the murder trial of a former New York television executive accused in the gruesome beheading of his estranged wife.
Muzzammil Hassan, 46, is accused of beheading his wife, Aasiya Zubair Hassan, at Bridges TV, an Orchard Park television station, on Feb. 12, 2009. Judge Thomas Franczyk has allowed Hassan to represent himself at the trial, which entered its seventh day on Thursday.
Hassan began to present his case Thursday morning, the Buffalo News reports, by consulting frequently with his attorney, Jeremy Schwartz, and by asking the judge whether Schwartz would be able to sit or stand close to him while testifying. Franczyk approved the request, but said he would not allow Hassan to question himself while on the stand.
"I think that's absurd," Franczyk said, according to the paper.
Hassan later used the word "abuse" to describe how his wife treated him, claiming in court that he read a book on verbally abusive relationships that gave him validation.
During one trip to Dallas in 2005, Hassan said members of his family saw his wife's "explosive" temper. Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable then objected when Hassan tried to testify about what his mother saw and how she reacted, the newspaper reported.
During testimony on Wednesday, text messages between Hassan and his wife were read aloud to jurors by a custodian of records for Sprint Nextel, the Buffalo News reported.
"I am a good man, Aasiya," Hassan wrote. "A humble and decent man, made some mistakes, please don't punish me so hard. God likes forgiveness."
The message was sent roughly 10 minutes before Aasiya Hassan was beheaded at the television studios she founded with her husband to counter negative images of Muslims in the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks.
On the day of Aasiya Hassan's death, the couple discussed meeting for lunch and arranged for her to drop off items for Hassan at his office, the Buffalo News reports.
"I cannot carry on without you and family," Hassan wrote Aasiya Hassan at about 5:35 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2009.
A few minutes later, Hassan wrote: "I have not done anything to hurt you since Sunday, since I saw my mistake."
Two days earlier, Hassan pleaded with his wife to call him in a series of messages.
"Aasiya, not talking increases negativity," he wrote on Feb. 10. "I have been so good all day. Please at least give me a chance to sleep peacefully."
Aasiya responded: "Mo, I know but it is time both of let go. Please do not make it more difficult for both of us."