Yaser Said trial: Accused took daughters out on pretext of dinner before killing them
On Tuesday, the trial of a Texas man, who is accused of killing his two daughters in a suspected case of "honor killings" in 2008 and fleeing for the following 12 years while on the FBI's most wanted list, began. Yaser Abdel Said, 65, is on trial for capital murder; if found guilty, he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The bodies of Amina, 18, and Sarah, 17, shot numerous times, were discovered in their father's taxi outside the Omni hotel in Irving. Sarah called 911 just before she passed away, saying to the operator, "Help, my dad shot me! I'm dying, I'm dying!"
Said, an Egyptian immigrant, is accused of killing them because they were "too American." Patricia Owens, his wife, previously revealed to Fox News that Said had become furious when he learned that his daughters were dating non-Muslim men. According to Owens, he claimed he didn't want to raise "whores as daughters." After the murders of her daughters, she filed for divorce.
The girls were allegedly taken out on New Year's Day by Said under the pretense of visiting a nearby restaurant in Lewisville, Texas, but he actually drove to Irving, Texas, where he is accused of shooting them in his taxi.
According to the prosecutor, Lauren Black, "this case is about a man who is obsessed with possession and control," she said in court on Tuesday. "He controlled what they did, who they talked to, who they could be friends with, if they and who they could date," Black said. "And he controlled everything in his household."
When Amina reluctantly returned home on New Year's after fleeing to Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her mother, sister, and their boyfriends, she "knew she was going to die," according to Amina's boyfriend, who testified in court. She reportedly told him in her final words that she would never see him again. On January 1, 2008, she went back home, and that evening she was killed.
On New Year's Day 2008, the bodies of Amina and Sarah were discovered inside their father's taxi, which was parked in front of a hotel in Irving.
The girls and their mother left their home before Christmas 2007, after their father put a gun to Amina's head, according to the prosecution. According to the Dallas Morning News, Amina's history teacher testified that the 18-year-old had emailed her about her plans to leave her house and said, "He will, without any drama or doubt, kill us." She also asked the teacher to keep her plans a secret until she had left home.
But, according to Black, in yet another instance of "control" and "manipulation" on Said's part, he persuaded them to go back home by claiming to have changed. She claimed that their father had planned to take just the two of them out to dinner the night the sisters were shot. "These were two young, spirited young ladies," Black said. "Normal teenage girls who wanted a normal life."
Their mother, Patricia Owens, and Sarah made the decision to spend New Year's Eve back in their hometown after moving to Tulsa. Amina apprehensively returned.
Said expressed his displeasure with his children's "dating activity" in a letter to the judge presiding over the case, but he denied murdering his daughters. In his opening remarks, defense attorney Joseph Patton claimed that the evidence did not support a conviction, that Said, who was born in Egypt, was the subject of excessive police attention, and that anti-Muslim prejudice may have contributed to that attention.
"It is wrong for the government to generalize an entire culture, criminalize an entire culture, to fit their narrative, and to fit their objective. The state wants to convict Yaser for being Muslim in 2008," said Patton.
No one will testify that they saw Said at the crime scene, according to his defense, and police ought to have looked into the girls' mother or Amina's boyfriend. He said, "They were the last to see Amina and Sarah alive. Amina's boyfriend stated that just before the shooting, he and his father did see Said and both girls in his cab and that they briefly followed them out of worry." Edgar Ruiz, Amina's boyfriend, remarked, "Her look was one of fear; she didn't look like she wanted to be there."
Said escaped after the killings and was discovered in 2020 about 30 miles from the scene of the crime. Islam, his son, who was 19 at the time, and Yassein, his brother, were both found guilty of harboring a wanted criminal. Islam received a 10-year term and Yassein received a 12-year term.
"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."
More than 58 people, including the mother of the girls, local and federal investigators, and specialists in Muslim culture, are anticipated to be called to testify. The judge is also allowing the prosecution to inform the jury of claims that Said sexually assaulted his own daughters; those claims were later withdrwan.
In Said's case, the death penalty is not a possibility. He would be sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole if found guilty of capital murder.