'Honor Killings' Trial: Mother of murdered girls calls ex-husband the 'devil'
DALLAS, Texas - Yaser Said was back in court on Thursday after an emotional day of testimony from some of the first members of law enforcement to visit the murder scene of Said's two daughters.
Said is accused of murdering his two teenage daughters, Amina and Sarah Said, in 2008.
Prosecutors claim Said murdered the girls inside his cab in Irving because was upset that his children were dating.
Police have described the murders as "honor killings."
Said disappeared simultaneously with the girls' murders and eluded police and the FBI for 12 years before he was finally captured.
The defense team claims that Said was targeted due to anti-Muslim bias.
On Thursday, Patricia Owens, the mother of Amina and Sarah Said, took the stand Thursday. She was soft-spoken on the witness stand, but her message about how she felt about her ex-husband was loud and clear when referring to him as the "devil."
Patricia Owens, the mother of Sarah and Amina Said, takes the stand in the trial of Yaser Said
Owens came face-to-face with her ex-husband for the first time since prosecutors say he killed their two teenaged daughters. She testified Said was controlling and abusive throughout most of their relationship.
She added that she and the kids left Said several times over the years, but always came back.
[ATTORNEY: "Why would you go back?"] "I was scared," Owens responded.
Owens claimed that she knew the girls had boyfriends and knew Said would be angry if he found out, adding that Said eventually found out about the girl's boyfriends and threatened one of the girls with a gun.
That revelation, in part, prompted Owens to flee the family home with her two daughters on Christmas Day 2007, packing clothes in trash bags and heading to Oklahoma.
The girls' two boyfriends went with them to Tulsa, where they got an apartment.
Owens told the jury Said left messages on their cell phones begging them to come back.
On New Year’s Eve, the day before the murders, they returned to Texas.
[ATTORNEY: "Ms. Owens this is a tough question. Amina knew what could happen to her."] "Yes," Owens responded.
[ATTORNEY: "Did you comprehend what could happen to her?"] "I did. A part of me did, a part of me didn't. Yeah, I'm sorry," she replied
Owens described what happened the next day. Said took the teens in the taxi cab to eat and talk, and refused to let her come along.
A short time later, the sisters were found shot to death in the cab in Irving. Said was nowhere to be found.
On cross examination, the defense tried to paint their outing in a positive light.
[ATTORNEY: "Yaser is apparently very happy to see his daughters again."] "Yes," Owens said.
The defense did not try to explain Said's whereabouts.
The state also called the lead Irving PD detective to the stand.
The defense questioned why law enforcement didn't consider anyone else to be a suspect.
"Initially, we were looking at the boyfriends originally, and then we focused on the defendant," Retired detective Randall Johnson said.
But the prosecution's questioning of law enforcement showed the evidence pointed to Said, who disappeared the night of the murders.
Johnson testified that after the murders, Owens turned over a green ammo box she claimed belonged to Said.
During direct examination, Johnson testified that the make of some of the 9 mm bullets in the box matched some of the shell casings found at the murder scene.
Retired Irving Det. Joe Hennig, referring to his original report, testified the girls’ mother and brother told him Said carried a gun in his cab.
Also, Det. John Schingle testified the GPS in the taxi cab had been turned off the night before the murders.
"There’s almost 24 hours we don’t know where that cab went," he said.
Also called to the stand Thursday was the owner of the taxi cab.
He testified he didn’t even know Said was driving the cab. He said Said didn’t fill out the necessary paperwork and was loaned the cab from someone else.
The prosecution is expected to call more than 40 witnesses to the stand over the course of the trial.
Yaser Said Trial Day 2
On Wednesday, the prosecution played the 911 call allegedly made by Sarah on the night of her death.
Yaser Said showed no emotion as cries for help played in court.
Said, who has pled not guilty to capital murder charges, at times turned to one of the defense team and talking even as the chilling call played.
WARNING: THE CONTENT OF THIS VIDEO MAY BE DISTURBING
Detective Kevin Hubbard, a dispatch supervisor, and the Irving Fire Department tried to get information from the unidentified caller but couldn’t.
Amina and Sarah said were both shot to death sitting in an orange jet taxi. That taxi was in line with cabs waiting for fares outside what was at the time the Omni Mandalay.
Nathan Watson ran guest services at the hotel in 2008.
"The doorman told me there were a couple of people in a cab that were hurt really bad and that I needed to come out to the front drive," he said.
What Watson saw in a cab caused him to call 911.
"One of the people in the passenger seat looked like she’s hunched over," he recalled. "You don’t see a driver anywhere. There’s someone in the back as well."
Defense team member Baharan Muse pressed whether anyone said that Said was at the hotel that night.
"Nobody said they saw him that night. Is that correct? None of your employees?" she asked.
"I don’t know. I didn’t ask my employees if they had seen him other than if they’d seen the driver from the cab," Watson said. "And I was told that nobody had seen the cab driver."
If convicted, Said will face life in prison.