Tag Archives: Divorce

Hey, Mo! Where You Goin’ With Those Knives in Your Hands?

3 Feb

Muzzammil Hassan spent 3 1/2 days on the witness stand, giving a long, rambling “direct” examination in a narrative manner.

Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin Gable began her cross-examination by pointing out that only a miniscule couple of seconds of his testimony were devoted to the actual murder of his wife.

Prosecutor Collen Curtin Gable opened her cross examination of Hassan by noting that in three-and-a-half days of testimony, Hassan spent about “two seconds” on the actual murder.

“Let’s start with Feb. 12, 2009,” Curtin Gable then asked. “You killed your wife, correct?”

“Yes,” Hassan responded.

Prosecutor Collen Curtin Gable opened her cross examination of Hassan by noting that in three-and-a-half days of testimony, Hassan spent about “two seconds” on the actual murder…

…You described killing your wife in just two words, ‘things happened,’ correct?…

…I want to focus on the attack because that’s what you didn’t do yesterday…

Hassan’s story is that he blacked out during the actual attack – that he has no recollection of it because he felt as if he had stepped out of his body and was watching himself commit the crime. Curtin Gable got Hassan to admit he thought Aasiya Zubair was a threat to him, then asked, “was she still a threat after the 20th stab wound?” Hassan had two brand-new knives in his pockets as he waited for his wife in the darkened Bridges studio. He attacked her within 5 seconds of her entering the building. He was asked whether he kicked his wife’s head after he severed it from her body, and replied that he thought it had just slid from the blood, but acknowledged he caused it to move because he was defending himself. “You had to defend yourself when you were cutting off her head?”

Hassan took off a bloody shirt and left the knives. Curtin Gable asked him whether it was because he didn’t want to be caught – he said he left one of two shirts because it was a cold day that day, but he got “hot” after committing his crime.

He got in his car, and thought over giving his kids that $5,000 he had withdrawn earlier that day. He was reluctant because of an order of protection against him contacting them. Curtin Gable was incredulous, “OK, you just killed your wife, and you want the jury to believe you’re worried at that time about a protection order?” and, “you just happened to have $4900 on you after the murder?”

Turning to the divorce, Hassan said he never read the papers carefully and that he had gone to the bank that day to move $90,000 from an M&T account to a different bank ostensibly to protect his kids’ college fund. He was expressly forbidden by the divorce papers to do that. Hassan argued that he didn’t take the divorce seriously, that he just thought Aasiya was playing games. The following day, Hassan again tried to text his kids, then drove to the house, and finding it locked, he broke a window. Hassan continued texting his wife and kids, trying to get them to talk with him, and Aasiya basically responded that there was nothing left to talk about. He thought he could talk his way out of the divorce – that he could talk his way out of being exposed as an abusive husband.

Turning to the meeting on the day of the murder in the conference room at Bridges, Hassan had claimed on direct that Aasiya pulled a knife on him. Yet he didn’t scream out, he didn’t leave the room. When Aasiya left, he didn’t “drive around” – he drove directly to Wal*Mart in Hamburg, passing the Orchard Park Police Department on the way, and bought two large hunting knives. He acknowledged not complaining to the police because he thought they wouldn’t listen to him. Curtin Gable then recounted several incidents involving the police that had happened previously, and got Hassan to admit that he could have given the police his side of the story, but didn’t. He said they wouldn’t listen. She brought out several times that they did listen. He also admitted that Aasiya sent Hassan a friendly text message just moments after she supposedly pulled a knife on him.

He then returned to Bridges after buying the knives. He said he got one for protection, and the other? He was going to gift-wrap it for a friend at the office. Yet he used both knives in the attack.

Curtin Gable then got Hassan to admit that as he was texting his wife just moments before the attack, he never told her he was in the Bridges studio – where he knew she was headed. He left the lights off because he didn’t want her to come in – yet the text messages reveal she told him she was going to come inside to drop clothes off. After murdering Aasiya, Hassan texted someone, asking them to call his father, “urgent”.

Curtin Gable asked, “after Wal*Mart, you went to the one place you knew your wife would be, armed with two knives?” Hassan is huge compared to Aasiya, and Curtin Gable got him to admit that if he felt threatened, he could have just pushed his wife. From the attack, Hassan didn’t have a scratch on him.

After the lunch break, Curtin Gable asked Hassan specific questions about a “Memorandum of Understanding” between the couple, one section of which was about “Mo’s Basic Needs”. The document spelled out 13 behaviors Aasiya was not to engage in. Hassan’s only obligation under the contract was to determine when Aasiya had violated it. None of the enumerated, specific behaviors involved physical acts Aasiya should stop committing; instead, it was all about her basically not being bitchy to him when they argued. Seriously.

Curtin Gable then spelled out all of the times that Aasiya went to the police to complain about Hassan’s physical mistreatment of her, many of which took place while he was out of the country so he couldn’t talk her out of it. Photos of a beaten Aasiya from 2006 were introduced into evidence, showing a black eye and bruising on her arm and calf. There is not one shred of corroborating evidence to establish that Aasiya was ever physical with Hassan, yet plenty vice-versa.

He was cross-examined on two letters that Hassan wrote & sent, ostensibly on behalf of his mother, who doesn’t speak English. One was to Sandra Tan of the Buffalo News, and the other was to Tom Bauerle. He admitted sending them both, and admitted that he never wrote in the letters that it was in his handwriting, dictated by his mother. Both letters accused Aasiya of being abusive to Hassan. Yet the letter to Tom Bauerle was never addressed to him. Instead, it was sent to his mother in Texas. Upon receiving it, they were shocked, and turned it over to the DA.

Curtin Gable got Hassan to admit that he readily called people names and demeaned them when he was angry. I didn’t feel that this line of questioning was particularly effective, but she got Hassan to admit he called ADA Gable a “retard”, his dead wife a “Darth Vader” and an “evil dragon”, that the judge ran a “kangaroo court”, and DA Sedita was “Dumbo”. He later explained it away on re-direct, explaining he felt he was being treated unfairly, and that the male-as-abuser “paradigm” was taking hold in the case.

As she concluded, Curtin Gable got Hassan to admit that he felt not remorse, but relief, upon committing his crime. He felt that by beheading his wife he had inexplicably “broken a cycle of abuse” for his children. He thought that God had given him the “strength” to commit his crime, and that he was helped by “angels”. Curtin Gable: “Do you think that angels helped you stab your wife 41 times? Did angels help you behead her?

To conclude, Curtin Gable got Hassan to admit that he thought the following statements were true:

(a) that abusers are excellent manipulators;

(b) that abusers always blame the victim; and

(c) that what abusers fear most is exposure.

Hassan’s redirect narrative followed the judge’s admonition to stay “laser-like” within the scope of the cross. Most of his information was old news, however.

During a very brief re-cross examination, Curtin Gable got Hassan to admit that there is surveillance video of the murder itself because if he turned it off, an alarm would sound. If that alarm had sounded, Aasiya would have known he was there – he didn’t know how to turn off that alarm.

Afterwards, Hassan called his oldest daughter and tried to examine her, but it didn’t go anywhere. Sonia Hassan was clearly not there to help her father, never looking at him, and referring to him as the “defendant”. From the News’ blog:

Hassan has asked his daughter to explain a hand-written letter she wrote on Jan. 3, 2008.

His daughter, Sonia Hassan, started her explanation by saying that there was a child protection services investigation going on at the time she wrote it.

“Aasiya wanted, for some reason, for you to come back to the house,” Sonia testified. “So I was asked to write this letter because I had been previously blamed for most of the reasons why CPS was involved.”

She added that she could also testify “that I did not believe in any of the sentences I wrote.”

The letter, she said, stated that she didn’t believe her father was a threat.

Sonia Hassan said she did not recall who asked her to write the letter and that it was possible it was Hassan who told her to write the letter.

That didn’t go well. Cross-examining his kids was the genesis of Hassan’s decision to represent himself, but when the time came to do it, it went nowhere. He won’t be calling his son.

Hassan’s examination is complete. He is still presenting his case today in Erie County Court. It is anticipated that the jury may have the case by Friday, depending on the scheduling of certain witnesses.

But the prosecution did what it needed to do. It was short & sweet, didn’t waste the jury’s time like Hassan has, and pointed out specific inconsistencies and other things in Hassan’s story that make zero sense. They have successfully laid the foundation for an argument to the jury that Hassan wasn’t a battered spouse who snapped, killing his abuser in anticipatory self-defense, but that he had methodically planned to murder his wife out of rage – rage that she was escaping his evil clutches. This is classic projection – the only “evil dragon” here is the master manipulator, Muzzammil Hassan.

(Report based on personal observation, together with the #Hassan Twitter search and the Buffalo News’ Live Blog).

Woe is Mo: #Hassan uses the Chewbacca Defense

2 Feb

Muzzammil Hassan completed his direct testimony yesterday, leading the jury through his version of the events of January and February 2009.

It was largely similar to the previous days of Hassan testimony, whereby he narrated a story for the jury over frequent prosecution objections and stumbling over evidentiary issues.  Hassan needed to tell the jury all about his feelings, at the hands of Aasiya Zubair‘s “bullying” and “controlling” behavior.

Aasiya clearly wanted out of the marriage.  Hassan testified that he felt “blindsided” by service upon him of the divorce papers, together with an order of protection forcing him out of the house.  He testified about feeling embarrassment and shame at earlier restraining orders, feeling humiliated having to visit his kids under court-ordered supervision.  Hassan went to great pains to paint Aasiya as what he termed an “evil dragon” whose mood would swing from sweet to sour like a pendulum.  He testified earnestly to the jury that Aasiya would be nice to him on minute, while behind his back she was meeting with lawyers and plotting to divorce him.

So?

He testified about two lunchtime meetings that he and Aasiya had at the conference room at Bridges during the six days between service of divorce papers and the murder.  At one, Aasiya purportedly offered to drop the divorce if Hassan would agree to budget $10,000 per year for her and the kids to visit Pakistan every year.  Turning to the day of the murder, he testified that they held a volatile meeting at lunchtime where Aasiya demanded that he break off contact with two female friends of his.  He testified that at this point, Aasiya pulled a knife on him.

Hassan had testified about text messages he had sent to one of them several weeks before the murder, where he was telling her that his wife was a “bully” and expressing thanks to this friend for paying attention to him.

So? If his wife was such a bully, and he had a support system built-in by way of psychological counseling and friendships, he didn’t have to kill anybody.  He could have just let the divorce go through and be free of the supposed “dragon”.

He felt very hurt after that meeting, and took a drive to clear his head.  He happened upon the Hamburg Wal*Mart where he coincidentally walked in and happened to unexpectedly go to the hunting knife department and randomly bought two large knives.  He testified that he got one to help a friend “chop wood”, and another for protection from Aasiya.

His testimony was that he was going to meet Aasiya to call the other friend at 6pm.  She was to meet him at the studio.  He waited for her, and she came in and started walking to the conference room, saying they had to make that call.  When Aasiya reached into the pocket from where she had previously pulled a knife, Hassan freaked out and murdered her with multiple stab wounds and a beheading.

He began breaking down on the stand, explaining that he was relieved that he had slain the “evil dragon”, that the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders, and that his kids would not have to live with a monster anymore.

The problem for Mo Hassan is that the objective evidence did not corroborate his story. He parked in an unusual spot in an empty parking lot.  He parked out of sight, where his wife wouldn’t see him.  The text messages between them showed that she was going to the studio to drop clothes into his car.  She had the kids wait in the car. He texted her that he had left the studio – that she should put the clothes in the office.  But he waited in the office for her.  She didn’t know he was there.  It was a darkened studio, where he lay in wait for his wife, whom he had just told that he was not there.  It took 37 seconds from the time she opened the door until her head was severed from her body.  He had $4900 on him.  He had used $100 to buy the knives, he gave the rest to his eldest son, who was waiting outside for his murdered stepmother.

This wasn’t the sudden, unplanned, unexpected act of a man who snapped.  This wasn’t a battered husband who killed her before she killed him.  This was a methodically pre-planned execution.

If he wanted out of the relationship, he had it.  She had filed for divorce.  The notion that he felt trapped in an abusive relationship is nonsense.  In cases of battered spouse syndrome, the abuser maintains control over the other person in the relationship – divorce is out of the question, as it would break that control.  There was only one person in the relationship of Aasiya Zubair and Muzzammil Hassan who didn’t want a divorce to take place, and that person is the defendant.

It’s interesting that the only two emotions Hassan has displayed during this trial have been anger and, only yesterday, crying.  I’m sure he feels sadness that he’ll never be a free man again, that he will not be a dad to his kids, that he’s in this situation; I’m sure those were tears of relief at having finally told his story.  Not once, however, did he express an iota of remorse for having murdered his wife so violently.  He didn’t cry for leaving his kids without their mother.  He didn’t cry for having committed a needless homicide.  He didn’t cry for having murdered this woman whom he supposedly loved so much he went out of his way to stop the divorce.  It doesn’t add up.  It’s the Chewbacca defense in real life.

And so he ended his testimony.  Nothing was his fault.  It was all Aasiya’s fault.  He was the loving husband, going to counseling, trying to save his marriage.  His wife was a demanding bitch who said mean things to him, so he snapped. He destroyed her body, now he concluded about four days’ worth of destroying her reputation. His domination is complete. Cry, Mo, cry.

Today, the prosecution commences its cross-examination of the defendant.  Hopefully, ADA Colleen Curtin Gable will conduct it, as it would be interesting to see Hassan’s demeanor under tough questioning from a strong, intelligent, female in a dominant role at this stage in the trial.  I don’t think he’ll fare well.

(Report based on personal observation of the trial, along with following the #Hassan hashtag and the Buffalo News’ live blog).