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Sister of ‘honor killing’ defendant says convicted killer was good husband, son

August 6, 2018

The younger sister of a man convicted in a pair of “honor killings” portrayed him Monday as a generous, loyal son and a considerate husband in testimony, as his lawyers began making their case to jurors that he should be sentenced to life in prison rather than death for killing his son-in-law and his daughter’s best friend in 2012.

Two weeks ago, the state District Court jury convicted Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan in the shooting deaths of Coty Beavers, 28, and Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30. Prosecutors said Irsan, who is Muslim, planned the slayings to restore the family honor after his daughter married a Christian.

Wearing a traditional hijab, Isaf Rawabedeh, 58, a retired school principal, told jurors through an Arabic interpreter that she traveled from Jordan during the weekend to testify at her brother’s trial. She patted her eyes with a tissue as she explained that their father who was angry and never happy, used to beat their mother in front of the children and also beat the defendant with a belt or a shoe. She said the defendant often would get in between his parents and ask that their father hit him instead of their mother.

He worked hard through school and paid for her brother’s and father’s funeral, and when he received inheritance money after his father’s death, he gave it to his mother, she testified.

Rawabedeh also told the jury that when the defendant and his first wife, Robin, came to live with her in Jordan, she observed how loving and attentive he was. Since Robin is blind, her brother helped her around the house and washed her clothes, which surprised Rawabedeh, because that is uncommon in Jordan.

Rawabedeh denied earlier testimony by Irsan’s daughter that she had been sexually assaulted by another brother, calling her “a liar.”

Another sister is expected to take the stand for the defense Monday.

gabrielle.banks@chron.com

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