An El Cajon man, accused of killing his wife in a crime that was initially thought to be a hate crime, wept openly in court as his trial began Tuesday.
Prosecutors set the scene in the trial of Kassim Alhimidi by describing the day his 32-year-old wife, Shaima Alawadi, was found brutally beaten.
El Cajon police originally investigated the woman’s death as a possible hate crime because of a note found at the scene.
Investigators played the 911 call their daughter placed after finding Alawadi unconscious and bleeding on the downstairs floor.
As the jury listened to the call, Alhimidi wailed and sobbed uncontrollably.
Judge William J. McGrath called for a ten-minute recess and asked the jury to step outside.
He warned the defendant to quiet down and asked the defense to provide him with a handkerchief to muffle his sobs.
“Mr. Alhimidi, please understand that these jurors need to hear all this evidence. They’re not going to be able to hear the evidence if you’re being louder than the testimony or, in this case, the 911 tape. You need to do your best to stop this,” McGrath said.
Alhimidi, a 49-year-old Iraqi immigrant, is accused of beating his wife to death after she asked for a divorce.
Police arrested him on Nov. 8, 2012, after they ruled out a possible random hate crime.
First-responders found a note in the home that read, "This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist."
The couple's 18-year-old daughter, Fatima, testified during a preliminary hearing last year that a similar threatening note was found at the family's door step eight days before her mother was attacked.
Alawadi had at least six head wounds and died three days later of brain trauma.
Alhimidi's defense attorney described his client as a peaceful man who was an elder at the neighborhood mosque.
He also said the fact that the couple had marital problems was not in dispute. There were also divorce records in the van parked outside the family's home.
However, the defense contends that Alhimidi did not want the divorce but that he did not attack his wife because he loved his wife and wanted to keep the marriage together.
"Kassim had no history of domestic violence. The kids will say the parents argued but he never raised his hand," the attorney added.
Alhimidi used an interpreter to understand the trial, since English is his second language.
On Wednesday, jurors will hear from the couple's daughter Fatima, who was home at the time of the alleged beating.