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On Friday, a San Diego County superior court judge ordered Kassim Alhimidi, an Iraqi immigrant from El Cajon, California, to stand trial in the beating death of his wife, 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi. Video surveillance shows that Kassim lied to investigators about his whereabouts on March 21, 2012, the day of his wife’s death, which was enough for the judge to order him to trial.
Shaima’s death garnered national headlines last March, after authorities initially suspected that her death was a hate crime. First responders to their home found a note at the scene saying, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.” However, police soon learned from documents found in her car, that the mother of five was planning on seeking a divorce from her husband at the time of her death.
Kassim is pleading not guilty, and according to his attorney, has cooperated with police from the very start of the investigation. No word on when the trial is set to begin.
UPDATE: 3/26/14 7:15 AM
Apparently, the video surveillance that investigators claimed proved that Kassim lied to them about his whereabouts on the day his wife died, was actually forged by police.
At a pre-trial hearing Tuesday, Darren Forster, an El Cajon homicide detective, admitted in court that he got Kassim to say he was near the scene of the crime after showing him a picture of his red van parked down the street.
From 10 News:
The detective said Alhimidi steadfastly denied being there but eventually caved because he could not argue with photographic evidence.
The only problem is the picture was a fake. Forster called it a “ruse” in court. He admitted police drove Alhimidi’s red van back to the scene, staged a picture of it and added a fake time stamp and then showed it to Alhimidi.
I’m not sure what other evidence prosecutors have against Kassim, but it was that very photo that led to Kassim saying he may have been in the area (when previously he had insisted he hadn’t been), which ultimately led to his arrest.
El Cajon police, through their spokesperson, claim that surveillance video DOES show Kassim’s car there the day of the murder, but that they were unable to get a useable still from the video, so they created the fake one.
Kassim’s defense team is reportedly going to try and show that the victim’s daughter was actually responsible for the killing. She was in the house at the time of her mother’s death, and was reportedly unhappy about an arranged marriage.
This trial should be pretty interesting, to say the least.
Opening arguments are scheduled to begin on April 1, 2014.
UPDATE: 4/18/14 10:47 AM
Kassim was found guilty of the murder of his wife Shaima.
When the verdict was announced, Kassim became very emotional and started shouting. The bailiffs had to remove him from the courtroom.
Kassim faces up to 26 years in prison.
UPDATE: 4/21/14 7:19 AM
Kassim gave a jailhouse interview to CBS 8 after his conviction, in which he says he is innocent.
– Kassim Alhimidi, Husband Of Shaima Alawadi, Pleads Not Guilty To Wife’s Murder
– El Cajon homicide detectives admit to doctoring photo as a ‘ruse’ to solicit confession
– Iraqi Man Found Guilty of Wife’s Murder
– Convicted murderer maintains innocence