A Jordanian immigrant who committed two brutal “honor killings” in 2012 as revenge over his daughter’s conversion to Christianity has been sentenced to death.
Following a lengthy trial and some 11 weeks of testimony, a jury of four women and three men took just under an hour to hand down the sentence of execution by lethal injection. Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, 60, murdered his daughter’s new husband, Coty Beavers, and best friend, Gelareh Bagherzade, in a fit of rage over her conversion from Islam to Christianity.
Irsan’s wife, Shmou Alrawabdeh, testified at that her husband had committed the killings in an attempt to “clean his honor,” as reported by TIME. In November 2012, Irsan is alleged to have slipped into Beavers’ unlocked apartment near Houston before shooting him dead.
According to prosecutors, Irsan’s original plan was to kill five people, including his daughter, Nasreen. However, he wanted to slay those closest to her first, so that she would experience the greatest possible level of suffering.
“He wanted to kill her,” prosecutor Jon Stephenson told jurors in his opening statements. “But he wanted to kill all those she loved first, so that she would suffer that much more before she died.”
“On November 12, 2012, Ali Irsan and his family destroyed life as we knew it forever,” said Beaver’s mother in a victim impact statement reported by the Houston Chronicle. “That was the day they ambushed and murdered Coty, to restore honor to someone who never had any.”
Irsan’s son was also alleged to have been involved in the brutal plan, and is currently charged with capital murder. It is thought he shot Bagherzadeh dead in her car.
“Honor violence typically involves participation of multiple family members,” said Coty’s twin brother, Cory Beavers. “We will continue to pray that everyone culpable in these murders are brought to justice.”
Gelareh Bagherzadeh was killed for supporting her best friend’s decision to marry a Christian man and convert to the faith. Her family also delivered a powerful statement.
“By taking Gelareh away from us, they took away a true human being who would have helped anyone in any way that crossed her path throughout her life,” the family said. “They took something good from our society.”
Irsan has a history of violent conduct toward his own family. He has previously been accused of raping his first wife, as well as raping his oldest daughter, and threatening to kill her after she married someone of whom he did not approve.
One of his daughters has alleged that her father praised Osama bin Laden, celebrated the 9/11 attacks and even encouraged his children to become suicide bombers themselves.
At times, Irsan has displayed somewhat bizarre behavior in the courtroom.
“Those prosecutors are devils,” Irsan told a bailiff in a loud voice at a July court appearance. “They want my life. I need to defend myself. The prosecutors are evil.”
The 2012 attacks took place 11 months apart, with prosecutors arguing that Irsan was connected to both crimes.
“Don’t second guess yourselves,” the judge told the jurors after the sentence was read out. “You listened attentively to every detail. It was the right verdict.”
(H/T: The Houston Chronicle)