The trial for a Texas man who allegedly murdered his two daughters in "honor killings" in 2008, then spent the next 12 years as a fugitive on the FBI’s most wanted list, started on Tuesday.
Yaser Abdel Said, 65, is on trial for capital murder and would automatically be sentenced to life in prison if convicted because prosecutors aren’t seeking the death penalty.
Said, an Egyptian immigrant, is accused of killing his daughters Amina, 18 and Sarah, 17, because they were "too American." His wife, Patricia Owens, previously told Fox News that Said had become enraged that his daughters had boyfriends who weren’t Muslim. He said he didn't want to raise "whores as daughters," Owens said. She divorced him after her daughters' killings.
Said allegedly took the girls out on New Year’s Day under the guise of going to a local restaurant in Lewisville, Texas, but instead drove to Irving, Texas, and allegedly shot them in his taxi.
Sarah was able to call 911 before she died. "Help, my dad shot me! I'm dying, I'm dying!" she said. Amina is thought to have died instantly.
"This is a case about a man obsessed with possession and control," prosecutor Lauren Black said in court on Tuesday.
Amina’s boyfriend testified that she "knew she was gonna die" when she reluctantly went home on New Year's after she fled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her mother, sister and their boyfriends. He said her last words to him were that she would never see him again. She returned home on Jan. 1, 2008 and was murdered that night.
The bodies of Amina and Sarah were found riddled with bullets inside their father’s cab, which was parked outside of a hotel in Irving on New Year’s Day 2008.
The girls and their mother had left their home before Christmas 2007 after their father placed a gun to Amina’s head, prosecutors said.
Amina’s history teacher testified that the 18-year-old had emailed her about her plans to escape her home, writing, "He will, without any drama or doubt, kill us" while asking the teacher to keep her plans quiet until she had left home, according to the Dallas Morning News.
"These were two young, spirited young ladies," Black said. "Normal teenage girls who wanted a normal life."
After they settled in Tulsa, their mother, Patricia Owens and Sarah decided to return home for New Year's. Amina apprehensively returned.
Said’s defense lawyers said police didn’t do a thorough investigation of the murders and focused solely on him as a suspect.
"Rather than investigating the murders, they were investigating Yaser," attorney Joseph Patton said. "Evidence cannot and will not support a conviction for capital murder."
Said fled after the murders and was found in 2020 around 30 miles away from the crime scene. His son Islam, who was 19 at the time, and his brother, Yassein, were both convicted of harboring a known fugitive. Yassein was sentenced to 12 years and Islam to 10.
"My daughters were loving, caring, smart, loved everybody, would help anybody,' Owens told the Dallas Morning News after Said's arrest. 'They were two of the most awesome kids in the world and they did not deserve what happened to them."
Honor killings are typically carried out on a family member who is thought to have brought dishonor upon relatives. These kinds of killings and violence, which typically see men victimize wives and daughters because of behavior that has somehow insulted their faith, are among the most secretive crimes in society, experts told Fox News in 2015.
Fox News' Greg Norman contributed to this report.