The Iraqi immigrant convicted of his wife’s brutal beating death was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for the crime after his conflicted son read a statement of forgiveness.
Kassim Al-Himidi continued to maintain his innocence at his sentencing in El Cajon court Monday for the death of Shaima Alawadi. He was heard arguing with deputies before appearing before the judge, saying he's not guilty and refusing to go inside.
Nevertheless, when he finally went into the courtroom, the judge sentenced him to 25 years to life, plus one year. He will also get 593 days worth of credit for time served.
He continued yelling out to his two sons in Arabic, at times blowing them kisses.
"Judge, I swear I'm not guilty. Judge, I swear I'm not guilty," Al-Himidi said through tears. The outburst happened after his oldest son Mohammed told him in court that as much as he wanted to hate his father, he cannot.
"That was probably the hardest thing I've done in my entire life so far," Mohammed said after the sentencing.
Mohammed addressed the court and called his dad a true father figure who provided for his family and played soccer with his kids.
"It's pretty hard because it is your dad. Imagine your dad killing your mom," said Mohammed. "I'm pretty sure not that many people get that."
He said he forgives his father for his actions, though it was not an easy decision to reach.
"I feel like I'm betraying my mom if I do that, you know, because she's gone because of that, because of him, because of that reason. And if I'm going to forgive him, I don't know how she's going to feel about it, but I just feel like I should forgive him" said Mohammed. "It sucks. It's like you're in the middle."
Mohammed's mother Alawadi was found by her daughter fatally injured in a bloody attack inside the family’s home in March 2012. Doctors discovered she had suffered critical brain injuries, and the mother of five died three days later.
The resulting case was initially investigated as a hate crime, since a handwritten note found at the scene read “This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist.”
However, El Cajon Police announced the killing was not a hate crime but an act of domestic violence when they arrested Al-Himidi in Nov. 2012.
His emotional trial played out earlier this, and prosecutors accused the suspect of killing his wife because she wanted a divorce. They say he then staged the scene to make it look like a hate crime.
The couple’s daughter Fatima was ordered to take the stand several times, detailing her parents’ tense marriage and the day she found her mother’s lifeless body. Defense attorneys also tried to implicate Fatima in the murder.
Throughout his trial, Al-Himidi was visibly emotional, and he wept uncontrollably as 911 tapes were played for the jury.
But tension in the courtroom truly boiled over when the guilty verdict against him was read on April 17.
Al-Himidi cried out “not guilty” in Arabic as his mother-in-law screamed “you killed my daughter.” Mohammed also yelled profanities at the jury, screaming that his father is innocent.