An insanity plea might have worked better than trying to portray himself as a victim, because normal Islamic diversity can appear crazy to Americans. Women have no right to individuality under Islam, and a husband can do what he likes to a disobedient wife. It’s a cultural chasm, one of many that separates the West from Islamic society and makes many Muslims unsuitable immigrants. My sense is that Muzzammil is far too arrogant to claim insanity, even if it might have helped him in court. That last bit is just speculation, of course.
In addition, the accused fired his attorney midway through the proceedings, and Hassan acted as his own counsel for the remainder of the trial, as permitted by the Judge Thomas Franczyk. From time to time the judge had to tell Hassan to speed it up, and a slow presentation cannot have helped his appeal to the jury on top of everything else.
Muzzammil and Aasiya were supposed to represent the moderate Muslim couple in America. They founded an Islamic television station, BridgesTV, to fight negative stereotypes about Muslims (like their violence against women), and it was at the station where the murder took place, after Aasiya filed for divorce.
Below is a news report on the conviction from WIVB:
Hassan Trial: Hassan Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder, WGRZ NBC-TV, Buffalo, February 7, 2011
BUFFALO, NY — The jury in the Muzzammil Hassan trial has reached a verdict. Muzzammil Hassan is guilty of 2nd degree murder in the death of his wife, Aasiya Hassan.
The jury deliberated for a little over an hour before reaching their verdict.
The judge has scheduled Hassan’s sentencing for March 9, 2011, where he faces a sentence of up to 25-years-to life behind bars.
Hassan was led away in handcuffs.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, Jr. called Hassan a ”vicious murderer” during a press conference after the verdict.
The jury declined to speak to the media about the trial or their decision.
Earlier, Hassan delivered his closing arguments, followed by the prosecution.
”Ladies and gentlemen this is not a divorce case, this is a murder case,” said Colleen Curtin Gable, prosecutor.
Jurors were told that Aasiya Hassan may have been conscious when the defendant started to behead her on February 12, 2009.
Curtin Gable started off strong telling the jury that Hassan wants them to believe that what he did was in self defense, ”not a chance, not even close.”
”There is absolutely no doubt that the defendant killed his wife intentionally,” said the prosecutor. ”He was carefully and deliberately planning to kill her.”
The prosecutor told jurors Hassan was efficient and deliberate in killing his wife in just ”thirty-seven seconds.” While describing the murder, Curtin Gable described how Aasiya was stabbed in the head and from the mouth to her ear. ”How is that self defense, stabbing an unarmed woman from behind,” she asked jurors.
”He was in control,” she told jurors. ”Cool, calm, collected and calculating every step of the way.”
Hassan claimed he was a battered spouse, but Curtin Gable told jurors that should not even enter into their deliberations, ”battered spouse he was not,” she said.
The prosecutor’s voice cracked as she fought to hold back tears at the end when told jurors, ”it is time for this defendant to get his due.”
Hassan addressed the jury on Monday morning.
2 On Your Side’s Pete Gallivan was sitting inside the courtroom, and tells us in his live blog that Hassan’s summation seemed to be ”merely a condensed version of his four-day narrative.”
Hassan received several stern warnings from the judge, both for citing documents not previously listed as evidence and for exchanging words with the counsel.
WEB EXTRA: Watch video of closing arguments in the Hassan trial.
Hassan began Monday morning by presenting 19 pages of e-mails to the judge that he claims captured his state of mind around the time of the beheading. Aasiya accuses Hassan in these messages of being emotionally and physically abusive.
He says the prosecution has no evidence or eyewitnesses, just stories that refer to Aasyia’s claims of physical and emotional abuse. Hassan states over 70 people had direct observation of his wife for over two years, and none had seen any evidence this. The doctors, Hassan said, have been ”brainwashed.”
”No one know what is going on behind the scenes,” Hassan told the jury. ”Only Aasyia and I know. Now only I know.”
Hassan admitted to the courtroom that he did, in fact, have physical altercations with his wife, but that he never beat or abused her. ”Men are never put in the victim’s box,” he said.
The abuser, says Hassan, often comes across to the outside world as charming and friendly, but to the victim it is a very different story. ”A victim often feels like a hostage to a terrorist, a slave to an overbearing master.”
On multiple occasions, Hassan claims he attempted to move out, but that false promises by his wife brought him back home. He wonders why Aasiya would continuously beg him to return ”if I was such a horrible wife beater.”
”Think of a dog with an invisible fence,” Hassan tells the jury. ”He tries to escape, he gets a shock, he keeps getting shocked and eventually stops trying.” Hassan likens himself to the dog, saying he received so many shocks through abuse and threats that he simply stopped trying to escape.
He goes on to identify flaws in ”the system,” attempting to indict it by saying that his enemy is false beliefs in religion. He compares this with the experiences of Nelson Mandela and Gandhi.
”My enemy are not these people, it is in the false belief in the religion of patriarchy that has unleashed a blood bath on American women.”
Aasiya, according to Hassan, was abused by her parents: ”Because of her child abuse, she became an abuser.” He discusses her personality profile that lists her at the top of the scale for having a controlling personality.”
Today marks day 14 in a case that has spanned several weeks. The trial began with a lengthy jury selection process.
Testimony wrapped up last week with Doctor David Myrow taking the stand for the defense. Myrow is a psycho-therapist who worked with the Hassan’s.
Hassan spent four days giving narrative testimony, describing in great detail his relationship with Aasiya. On several occasions Judge Thomas Franczyk warned Hassan to speed up his testimony.
The judge also made it clear to Hassan that many of his witnesses were counter-productive and didn’t seem to help his defense.
After first denying his request, the judge later ruled that Hassan could represent himself. His former defense attorney, Jeremy Schwartz, now serves as Hassan’s legal advisor in the courtroom.
Throughout this trial, dozens of people have lined up on a daily basis to sit in on the proceedings. The case is being followed by attorneys, law students, professors, and the general public.