READER'S EDITORIAL: EXPLOSIVE TESTIMONY IN ALHIMIDI MURDER TRIAL

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Daughter told friend she saw a "white guy" fleeing murder scene

By Robert Clark

April 13, 2014 (El Cajon)--The trial of Kassim Alhimidi for the murder of his wife, Shaima Alawadi, in El Cajon District Court is winding down. According to Judge William McGrath, the case could go to the jury as early perhaps as April 15, following completion of presentation of evidence, his jury instructions, and closing arguments.

The prosecution rested at 10:06 a.m. on April 11, having presented 108 exhibits into evidence. The defense called four witnesses before court adjourned about 2:30 p.m.

Trial testimony has strongly confirmed the opinion I stated on April 6 that an immediate acquittal would be in order. According to the judge at last July's preliminary hearing, the most compelling evidence against Alhimidi was video supposedly showing him parking his minivan near the crime scene at the time his wife was attacked. This evidence was obtained by El Cajon police detectives within two weeks of the murder. Why did they wait more than seven months to arrest him?

It is an indication of how weak the evidence is that it was not presented to a judge to justify his incarceration for more than eight months after his arrest. After several delays, the trial did not begin for another eight months.

Alhimid's arrest on November 8, 2012 supposedly resulted from an unsolicited telephone call the day before from Fatima, daughter of the couple who was then 17 years old, saying "My dad did it." (During cross-examination, defense attorney Richard Berkon confronted her with the statement "You threw your dad under the bus!" There was an immediate objection, which was sustained by McGrath.)

It is difficult to understand why the El Cajon police placed any credibility in her call, considering her inconsistent statements and erratic behavior. For example, she allegedly told a friend a "white guy" entered her home and hit her mother. Police took her seriously enough to arrange for her to view three photo lineups of "white guys," spread out over several weeks in May, 2012,

Fatima testified that an uncle staying with the family slapped her and punched a male friend delivering cigarettes. She ran away to stay with a friend, Jeanine Crawford. Fatima was asked if she told her friend that she hated her mother. Fatima admitted saying that, but didn't mean it literally. She was asked if she told Crawford she wished her mother were dead. Her reply: "I don't remember."

Crawford was called by the defense on April 11. She testified that Fatima told her "a few times" that she hated her mother and wished she were dead. However, Crawford said she didn't think that Fatima  meant it, and was just being a typical, "rebellious" teenager. She also said that Fatima had run away in recent years 50 to 60 times, and had stayed with her about half of those times.

Judge McGrath asked Crawford if she was testifying that Fatima "spent at least one night at your  home" on 25 or more occasions. Crawford affirmed that was true.

I hope to provide more details of defense testimony in a day or so. There were possibly questionable tactics by the police, an officer's testimony about an event he considered to be a "suicide" attempt by Fatima, and the significance of a pizza box.

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eaastcountymagazine.org.