Police, however, weren't as gullible as the media. Instead of jumping to conclusions about bigotry and racism, they examined the evidence and realized that Alawadi was murdered by her husband, not by an Islamophobe.
SAN DIEGO (CNS/CBS 8) - A jury Thursday found an East County man guilty in the murder of his estranged wife, prompting an outburst by several family members in the courtroom.Here's video footage of the chaos that ensued following the reading of the verdict.
Kassim Alhimidi, 49, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi. He will be sentenced on May 15. He faces 26 years to life in prison.
After the verdict was read several people in the courtroom began shouting, and at least two people were taken out by deputies. Alhimidi was seen repeatedly shook his head, waved his finger and appeared to be praying.
A photocopied note found about eight to 10 feet from the victim read, "This is my country. Go back to yours, terrorist," leading investigators to initially believe Alawadi's killing may have been a hate crime.
Prosecutor Kurt Mechals said the defendant, upset that his wife wanted a divorce, killed her by hitting her at least six times in the head with a blunt object as she sat at a computer.
Alhimidi said he was out for a drive when his wife was killed the morning of March 21, 2012, but surveillance video taken from a nearby school showed his van and a dark-clothed person coming and going in the area of the family home on Skyview Drive around the time the victim was attacked, Mechals said.
Alawadi had told relatives she "couldn't stand" the defendant and had taken out divorce papers, the prosecutor said.
"The relationship was in the tank. It was bad," Mechals told the jury.
The couple's then-17-year-old daughter, Fatima, told police she was upstairs when she heard a "squeal," then later what sounded like a broken plate downstairs around 11 a.m. the day her mother was attacked. A pane from a sliding glass door had been broken from the inside, Mechals said.
Fatima -- who had stayed home from school -- thought her mother had fallen, but paramedics first on the scene said blood and other evidence was inconsistent with a fall.
Fatima had been at odds with her Muslim parents for dating a Chaldean, but she had no motive to kill her mother, according to Mechals, who told jurors it was "unreasonable to think she (Fatima) had anything to do with it."
After his wife was taken to the hospital, Alhimidi asked relatives "what do you think will happen if she wakes up and says I hit her?" Mechals said. (Continue Reading.)