Closing arguments began Tuesday as the trial wrapped for an Iraqi immigrant accused of beating his wife to death inside their El Cajon home two years ago.
Kassim Al-Himidi, 49, is accused of killing his wife, Shaima Alawadi, 32, after she asked for a divorce.
Alawadi’s brutally beaten body was found in a pool of blood by the couple’s then 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Al-Himidi, in the dining room of their family home in El Cajon on Mar. 21, 2012. Alawadi was hit at least six times and died three days later from critical brain injuries sustained in the beating.
At first, the case was investigated as a hate crime because a threatening note was found at the crime scene that read: “This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist.”
Both the defendant and victim are Iraqi immigrants. The case reverberated across the nation until El Cajon police later said the killing was an isolated incident and Alawadi’s death was not a hate crime, but rather one of domestic violence.
Al-Himidi was arrested in connection with his wife’s murder in November 2012. According to the prosecution, Al-Himidi killed his wife because she wanted a divorce and staged the crime scene with the note to make it look like a hate crime.
Over the past few weeks of Al-Himidi’s trial, the couple’s daughter has taken the stand several times. During that testimony, Fatima has shared details of her parents’ tense marriage and recounted the day she found her mother’s lifeless, bloodied body.
Al-Himidi has been visibly emotional throughout the trial, at times crying and wailing loudly as evidence was presented to the jury. He wept uncontrollably when 911 tapes were played in the courtroom at the beginning of the trial.
Cameras were only allowed in the courtroom during opening testimony and again Tuesday for closing arguments.
Once again, Al-Himidi could be seen weeping alongside his attorneys, holding a towel to his face when his emotions got the best of him.
The prosecution presented their closing argument first Tuesday, reminding the jury about how they should come up with their verdict. Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals went over the law and definitions of first and second-degree murder, what classifies reasonable doubt and so forth.
He then presented the facts in the murder case once more for the jury and defended Fatima, who has been questioned heavily about her mother’s slaying. The defense believes Fatima was somehow involved in her mother’s murder.
“Fatima had nothing to do with this,” said the prosecutor, adding that Al-Himidi is responsible for the crime. "The answer is sitting right here. It's the defendant. There's no other conclusion that is reasonable."
The defense also presented closing arguments. Al-Himidi’s attorney said his client wanted to keep his family intact and resolve things with his wife, not hurt her.
“Shaima Alawadi wanted a divorce. Yes, we know that. But what evidence did we hear that Shaima wanting a divorce somehow created a motive in Kassim Al-Himidi to kill her?” said the defense. “He wanted to keep his family together. That’s not evidence of motive to kill, that’s motive to reconcile.”
If convicted, Al-Himidi faces 26 years to life in prison.