Patriarch’s sons defend their father in Houston ‘honor killings’ death penalty trial
A Jordanian immigrant disciplined his 12 children by tying them to a board then beating them and hitting them in the head with his cane, prosecutors said during cross-examination of his sons Tuesday at his capital murder trial on charges he committed two “honor killings” in 2012.
Prosecutors also said Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, 60, used his cane to whip a daughter who had cerebral palsy.
Irsan is accused of orchestrating the fatal shooting of his daughter’s newly wedded husband and her best friend from a family compound in rural Montgomery County. Irsan, a devout Muslim patriarch, was allegedly angry because they helped her to run away from his control and convert to Christianity.
On Tuesday, Irsan’s sons testified for the defense and denied the allegations against their father.
“You are aware that your father tied his children to a board and beat them, correct?” asked special prosecutor Marie Primm.
“Incorrect,” said Irsan’s 20-year-old son, Nader.
The 20-year-old gave contentious testimony for about two hours trying to shift blame for the two shootings to his mother and older brother, Nasim Irsan.
In his testimony, Nader Irsan said that his brother Nasim confessed to shooting Coty Beavers, the 28-year-old husband of Ali Irsan’s daughter, Nesreen.
“He admitted that he killed, and I quote, ‘the Beavers guy,’” Nader Irsan told the jury. “I told him to stop talking.”
The strategy emerging from the defense seems aimed at shifting the blame from Irsan to his son Nasim, and his wife, Shmou Alrawabdeh, for killing Beavers and Nesreen’s close friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, an Iranian activist.
Last week, Alrawabdeh testified that she was with her husband and son when they committed both shootings in 2012. She has agreed to plead guilty to aggravated kidnapping and her sentence will be capped at time served.
Nasim Irsan, 24, remains in the Harris County Jail on a charge of capital murder and is not expected to testify.
Instead, the defense called Nader Irsan, 20, Nadim Irsan, 18, and Nile Irsan, 22, to the witness stand as part of an effort to show that their sister Nesreen, whose husband and best friend were killed, was a sadistic disciplinarian who abused her younger siblings.
Nile testified that Nesreen beat him several times a times and also tortured him.
“I had vinegar injected into my femoral artery,” he Nile Irsan said. “They tried to inject air, an air bubble, into my arteries to form an embolism. I had gas poured on me and was set on fire. My nose was broken. I was tied up and beaten. I was stabbed a few times.”
He gave few details about the allegations while being questioned by defense attorney Allen Tanner.
Nile is eight years younger than his sister Nesreen and said all the events happened before she ran away from the home in 2011.
The trial is being held in state District Judge Jan Crocker’s court and is expected to last six to eight weeks.