Jordanian father convicted of two Houston-area ‘honor killings’ expected to plead for his life in death penalty trial
A 60-year-old Jordanian immigrant facing the death penalty for two Houston “honor killings” in 2012 is expected to take the stand Friday in his own defense.
It will be the second time that the Harris County jurors who convicted Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan will hear from the father of 12 who killed his son-in-law and coordinated the shooting of one of his daughter’s close female friends.
Two weeks ago, prosecutors convinced the jury that Irsan was a Muslim extremist who spent months stalking one of his adult daughters after she ran away from the family’s rural Montgomery County compound and converted to Christianity.
Prosecutors said he planned to kill a total of five people including his daughter for converting and marrying a Christian.
Irsan’s case and the lengthy trial has made international news since 2015 when Irsan was arrested and accused of the slayings because his honor was disgraced when his daughter, Nesreen, converted. The fatal shootings of Nesreen Irsan’s husband, Coty Beavers, and her close friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh happened 11 months apart in 2012.
During the first stage of the trial to determine guilt or innocence, Irsan gave a rambling explanation that he missed his daughter after she ran away and was just trying to get an explanation for why she left.
Because prosecutors were able to prove that Irsan committed both homicides as part of the same scheme, he was convicted of capital murder. Jurors deliberated less than an hour.
It is unclear what he will tell jurors Friday, but he has repeatedly prodded his attorneys to ask witnesses about his “good acts’ including giving food to poor neighbors and providing for his large family.
He will likely ask jurors to sentence him to life in prison without parole instead of the death penalty.
His attorneys have repeatedly held hearings outside the presence of the jury to say they have advised Irsan not to testify.
Irsan is expected to be the last witness in the trial, now in its seventh week in state District Judge Jan Krocker’s court.