DALLAS, TEXAS (CBSDFW.com) – Yaser Said, 65, was found guilty of capital murder in the slayings of his two daughters Sarah, 17, and Amina, 18.
A Dallas County jury reached the verdict after around three hours of deliberation Tuesday.
On Monday, Said took the stand in his own defense and denied killing the teens, who were both students at Lewisville High School.
“Definitely not, I did not kill my daughters,” said Said, whose testimony in Arabic was translated to English.
Said testified that as he was driving to dinner with his daughters on the evening they were killed, he thought someone was following the taxi. He said he did not know who it might be but assumed it might be friends of his daughters. He testified that he was fearful someone would harm him, so he left his daughters in the taxi and ran into nearby woods.
“I did not expect anyone would harm them,” Said testified.
Amina Said’s boyfriend has testified that the evening she and her sister were killed, he and his father saw them riding in the taxi with their father.
The sisters were found dead in Said’s taxicab on New Year’s Day 2008. Sarah Said was shot nine times and Amina Said was shot twice. Jurors heard a 911 call Sarah Said made by cell phone, telling the operator that her father shot her.
“Help,” Sarah was heard saying on the 911 call. “I’m dying. Oh my God. Stop it.”
In a letter written to the judge overseeing the case, Said admitted he was not happy with his kids’ “dating activity” but again, denied killing his daughters.
“I was upset because in my culture it’s something to get upset about,” said Said, who testified that he was born in Egypt, came to the U.S. in 1983 and later became a U.S. citizen.
Gail Gattrell, the sisters’ great-aunt, has called the deaths an “honor killing,” in which a woman is murdered by a relative to protect her family’s honor.
Prosecutor Lauren Black said during opening statements that the sisters were “very scared for their lives,” and the decision to leave was made after Said “put a gun to Amina’s head and threatened to kill her.” Black told jurors that Said was “obsessed with possession and control.”
Said’s former wife, Patricia Owens, has testified that Said eventually had convinced her to return to Texas from Oklahoma.
Defense attorney Joseph Patton said in opening statements that the evidence would not support a conviction and that police were too quick to focus on Said. He also said that in moments of extreme trauma, like being shot multiple times, people can have hallucinations.
Said now faces a life sentence in prison without parole.