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Father Denies Killing Two Teen Daughters In 'Honor Killing,' Says Someone Had Been Following Them The Night They Died
Prosecutors say 65-year-old taxicab driver Yaser Said murdered his teen daughters, Sarah and Amina, in 2008 for dating outside their Muslim faith.
The defense has rested in the murder trial of Yaser Said, the Texas man accused of murdering his teenage daughters and spending 12 years on the run.
The 65-year-old taxicab driver took the stand in the Dallas County courtroom on Monday, denying that he murdered his daughters, 17-year-old Sarah Said and 18-year-old Amina Said, on New Year’s Day in 2008, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate KXAS-TV. Authorities say both teenagers were shot multiple times in their father’s taxi cab in the Los Colinas neighborhood of Irving, Texas before their bodies were found outside the Omni Mandalay Hotel by employees
Yaser Said was quickly named the prime suspect and spent the next 12 years on the run, even being featured on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted. He was captured in Justin, Texas – less than 30 minutes from Los Colinas.
Said said federal authorities spent too much time focusing on him as the suspect, according to KXAS-TV. Speaking in his native Arabic on Monday, Said relayed his testimony through a translator.
“If the FBI did their work, they would know,” Said stated. “But they were looking for Yaser Said, and they did not do what they have to do.”
Since the murder trial began last week, jurors heard testimony from those who knew the Said family, including the girls’ boyfriends, who stated Said ruled his house with an iron fist. Prosecutors and relatives accused Said of killing his daughters as part of an "honor killing" because he believed they brought shame to the family by dating American boys outside their Islamic faith.
“In my culture, it’s something to get upset about,” Said admitted on the stand, according to ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA.
Still, Yaser Said testified that he had nothing to do with Sarah and Amina’s murders, per the NBC affiliate. He said he planned only on taking the girls out for dinner before he realized they were being tailed, prompting him to leave the girls and his taxi near the hotel before fleeing into a wooded area.
“I thought, if they are my daughter’s friends, let them solve the problem together if they have issues,” Said stated. “I told them, ‘The car is yours. You can do whatever you want.’ Since they know how to drive, I left the car for them.”
There have been no other suspects sought in Sarah and Amina’s murders.
Said’s statements contradict the 911 call placed by Sarah Said shortly after the shooting, which prosecutors played for the jury on Wednesday. In the four-minute call, Sarah spent her dying breaths implicating her father for the shooting.
“Help, my dad shot me,” jurors heard Sarah say in the 911 call. “I’m dying. I’m dying. I’m dying.”
The defense alleged Sarah was “hallucinating” as a result of her traumatic injuries.
Two medical examiners testified in the trial Friday, detailing the victims’ injuries: Sarah had been shot nine times, with wounds primarily around her abdomen. Amina was shot twice, including once in the chest.
Amina’s chest cavity filled with 1,500 milliliters of blood, enough to fill three water bottles, experts testified, according to KXAS-TV.
The mother of the two girls, Said’s ex-wife, Patricia Owens, testified on Thursday, accusing Yaser Said of domestic violence. She claimed Said controlled the girls’ movements by searching through their messages and forbade them from dating outside their culture.
Amina Said authored an e-mail to a teacher days before her murder, claiming he father was arranging her marriage against her will.
“He has simply made our lives a nightmare,” Amina wrote. “He’s one man, not God.”
According to previous testimony by Sarah and Amina’s boyfriends, Patricia and the girls – and the girls’ boyfriends – left Yaser Said on Christmas Day 2007 and rented an apartment in Oklahoma.
Patricia made the girls return – despite Amina’s refusal – for fears that her husband would harm them, according to testimony from Amina's boyfriend, Edgar Ruiz.
When asked to identify Said in court, Patricia pointed and said, “That devil there,” according to KXAS-TV. Patricia testified that part of her knew what would happen when her husband took the girls away before their fatal shooting.
“Part of me didn’t,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
Yaser Said spent the next 12 years on the run, according to FBI agent Daniel Gimenez, who took the stand Friday to detail Said’s 2020 arrest. Gimenez testified Said was apprehended “without incident” at a Justin, Texas, residence.
Said’s brother, Yassein Said, and his son, Islam Said, are currently serving time in federal prison for helping Yaser hide from authorities. According to WFAA, the relatives constructed a hidden room with a trap door to hide Yaser Said.
Prosecutors asked Said why he went on the run if he was not involved with Sarah and Amina’s murders, according to KXAS-TV.
“Because I believe behind this coverage there was a secret agenda,” Said answered. “And I feel the media was against me in a certain direction, that I would not get a fair trial.”
Yaser Said was the only person to testify for the defense before sides rested their cases. Closing arguments are expected to be delivered on Tuesday.
If convicted, Said faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.