A guilty verdict in a high-profile murder case led to emotional outbursts in a San Diego courtroom Thursday and a family forever divided by tragedy.
On Mar. 21, 2012, Alawadi was brutally beaten in a bloody attack at her home in El Cajon. She suffered critical brain injuries and died three days later.
At first, the case was investigated as a hate crime due to a handwritten note found at the crime scene, which read: “This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist.”
Ultimately, El Cajon police determined it wasn’t a hate crime but rather a crime of domestic violence, and arrested Al-Himidi in connection with the killing in November 2012.
On Thursday, after the verdict and an intense day in court, NBC 7 spoke exclusively with Alawadi’s sister, Mirian, who said there is still at least one person who believes in Al-Himidi is innocent.
That person is his oldest son.
After the guilty verdict was read, the son shouted in the courtroom: “This is bullsh**! This is f***ing bullsh**! My dad is innocent. He was tried unfairly.”
Al-Himidi then began yelling, too, proclaiming his innocence.
Mirian said most of her family believes Al-Himidi did kill Alawadi. But the couple’s older son is the exception. That opposition has caused a rift in the family.
“They don’t like the fact that he doesn’t believe it, but at the same time, you’re not going to force a kid to believe something that he doesn’t want to believe,” said Mirian.
For her part, Mirian said she’s now working on forgiveness and trying to heal from her sister’s untimely death.
“It’s been really hard, honestly,” she said. “What I believe is I didn’t see it. If he did do it, I hope he rots in there. If he didn’t do it, I don’t know that. My sister knows that and God knows that. I can’t sit here judging.”
As she tries to move forward, however, Mirian said she can’t help but remember a strange conversation she had with her sister just days before her slaying.
“She did tell me that ‘if the police call you, telling you your sister has died – Mirian, I want you to know it was him that killed me,’” she recalled.
Though the verdict has brought some closure to the family’s tragic, two-year-old case, they still face one major hurdle: Al-Himidi’s sentencing on May 15.
“He’s going to be in there for a really long time,” she said.
Mirian said the family’s main focus has been and still remains on the couple’s five children, who have now lost both their mother and father.
She thinks of her sister every day, and every day is reminded of the family’s new reality.
“I miss her, I would give anything to see her, but then I know it’s not going to happen,” she lamented. “My sister was the most amazing person I’ve met. She was strong.”