An Iraqi immigrant, who ran over his daughter in his car and assaulted her boyfriend's mother in a case billed as honor killing, has been convicted of second-degree murder by a Phoenix jury.
According to the Maricopa county prosecutors, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 50, mowed down Noor Almaleki, 20, with his Jeep Cherokee in a parking lot in October 2009 and assaulted Amal Edan Khalaf, the mother of Noor's boyfriend, who was with her at the time, before fleeing from the scene of crime.
Following the incident, Almaleki fled to Mexico and after abandoning his vehicle, he flew to London, where he was detained and deported back to the U.S.
Noor was in coma after the incident and succumbed to her injuries in November 2009 at an Arizona hospital.
Almaleki, the prosecutors said, was angry because he thought his daughter was becoming too Westernized. Almaleki, who is a truck driver hailing from southern Iraq, wanted Noor, who had married a man in Iraq, to behave like a traditional Muslim. But she made him angry when she, against his wish, returned to Arizona to attend college and had a boyfriend.
During the trial, Almaleki's lawyer argued that the accused never intended to kill anybody and accidentally ran over his daughter and hit her boyfriend's mother when he tried to drive away from the parking lot in anger.
According to Jeffrey Kirchler, who represented Almaleki in the matter, his client was trying to spit on Khalaf but swerved to avoid hitting her and unfortunately, ended up hitting Khalaf and running down Noor.
Faleh didn't intend to hurt anyone, Almaleki's lawyer Jeffrey Kirchler said. What happened that day was an accident, a horrible accident.
However, public prosecutor Laura Reckart said Almaleki intended to harm Khalaf and Noor and was lying in wait.
The police who investigated the matter estimated Almaleki was driving at around 20 miles per hour when he hit the two women. According to Reckart, Almaleki had sufficient time to press the brake and avoid the accident.
The evidence proves way beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended, wanted and desired to erase Noor and Amal from his life and this earth, she said..
After hearing both sides, the Maricopa County (Arizona) Superior Court jury convicted Almaleki of murdering Noor and also found him guilty of aggravated assault, for causing serious injuries to Khalaf and two counts of fleeing from the scene. However, he was acquitted of more serious first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder charges.
Almaleki faces anything between 17 and 45 years in prison. The jury will reconvene on Wednesday to Jurors will reconvene Wednesday to determine if there are aggravating factors that would earn him harsher sentences.
Though uncommon in the U.S., honor killings are not rare. In 2008, Yaser Abdel Said, who hails from Egypt, was accused of shooting his two Texas-born teenage daughters in the back seat of his taxi cab in the Dallas suburb of Lewisville, Texas. The FBI agents, who investigated the matter, called it honor killing.
In another incident in 2009, Muzzammil Hassan of Buffalo, New York, was accused of beheading his wife after he was served with divorce papers. Her headless body was found within the premises of Bridges TV, the station the Pakistan-born couple established in 2004 to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims.
According to the United Nations, around 5,000 honor killings occur every year around the world.