I warned that this would happen, I've written and spoken on this for a year. I said it would set a precedent. This animal is found guilty of only second degree murder? This is the ultimate miscarriage of justice! He murdered his OWN child!
A Maricopa County Superior Court jury on Tuesday found an Iraqi immigrant guilty of running down his daughter and another woman in a Peoria parking lot in Oct. 2009.
Faleh Hassan Al-Maleki was found guilty of second-degree murder for killing his daughter Noor, 20, and of aggravated assault for injuring her boyfriend's mother, Amal Khalaf, 41. He was also found guilty of two counts of leaving the scene of a fatal or injury accident.
It was never a "who-done-it" trial.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys didn't dispute that Al-Maleki hit the two women. But they disagreed on whether he meant to do it. The jury's job was to determine if Al-Maleki had committed first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, or the lesser offenses of second-degree murder and aggravated assault. Either way, Al-Maleki was likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Jurors will reconvene Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. to determine if there are aggravating factors that would earn harsher sentences for Al-Maleki. Prosecutor Laura Reckart is alleging that Al-Maleki was lying in wait, that he inflicted serious injury and that he caused physical, financial and emotional harm to his victims.
At sentencing, he faces 10 to 22 years in prison for second-degree murder, 5 to 15 years for aggravated assault, and 2 to 8 ¾ years for leaving the scene of the accident. All of those sentences would be stacked on top of each other, meaning Al-Maleki can face 17 to 45 ¾ years in prison. He is already 50 years old.
Al-Maleki's attorneys said the Glendale man drove his Jeep toward the two women, but swerved to avoid Khalaf and tragically hit his daughter.
His actions were reckless, attorneys said.
"Faleh didn't intend to hurt anyone," public defender Jeffrey Kirchler said. "What happened that day was an accident, a horrible accident."
Attorneys acknowledged that Al-Maleki was saddened by his daughter's decision to move out of his home in 2009. The Iraqi immigrant wiped tears from his eyes during closing statements Feb. 14 as Kirchler told jurors about Al-Maleki's fears that Khalaf's family was a negative influence on his daughter.
But Al-Maleki never intended to kill his first-born, Kirchler said.
Police and prosecutors told a different story.
They said Al-Maleki was enraged by his daughter's choices and felt she had dishonored him, so when he saw her and the woman she had gone to live with in the parking lot, he seized the opportunity.
Police estimated Al-Maleki was traveling at least 20 miles per hour when he hit the two women.
If Al-Maleki had pressed his foot on the brakes, Noor would likely still be alive and Khalaf wouldn't have been injured, Reckart said.
"The evidence proves way beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended, wanted and desired to erase Noor and Amal from his life and this earth," she said.
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