Scott Gordon, NBCDFW
The sentencing hearing for would-be bomber Hosam Smadi highlighted issues of mental illness, drug abuse and domestic violence in Smadi's past.
Smadi's father, Maher Smadi, took the stand Monday morning and talked about his son's troubled childhood. As the first witness, Maher Smadi said he would beat his son's mother in front of him when Hosam Smadi was 13 years old.
He also talked about how he and his wife had marital problems.
"Sometimes it developed in violence in front of the children," Maher Smadi testified. "Hosam would act like he wanted to defend his mother."
He said he also hit his son when he was 13.
"I used my hand, I used a stick, I hit him with a chain. I tried to choke him with my hands," Maher Smadi said.
Hosam Smadi's mother died in 2006 of brain cancer. At that point, he moved out of the house and became a loner. Maher Smadi said his son was very affected by his mother's death.
"He became depressed and lonely and sick," he said.
Hosam Smadi always visited his mother's grave and even sometimes slept in the cemetery with his mother at her grave site.
When Hosam Smadi was 16, he came to the United States in March 2007 to try to start a new life. This was five months after his mother died.
His father visited his son in 2008 in California, where he was living before he moved to Dallas. He said he was surprised that his son was wearing earrings in both ears.
"I was very surprised," he said. "According to our culture, it's not acceptable. Earrings are for girls."
Hosam Smadi started smoking and drinking alcohol. He also told his father he was attracted to Christianity.
The father said when Smadi moved to Dallas, he began to turn from Christianity and started to follow Islam. Maher Smadi said he visited his son in April 2009 in Dallas. He was concerned about Smadi and thought he was developing extremist views.
"He would pray a lot, read the Koran, talk about how Israel destroyed Gaza. I did not want him to be involved in that area. I told him to stay away from the Internet. He told me he would stop," Maher Smadi testified.
He also said Smadi wanted get a green card to live in the United States legally and arranged a sham marriage to do so. Smadi's father said Smadi told him he didn't live with his wife, and his wife had a boyfriend. Smadi never ended up getting his green card.
Smadi's father begged the judge for leniency.
"If he leaves prison now, I'm sure he'll learn from his mistake and he'll become a good person and get away from the bad influences and the radical acts," Maher Smadi said.
The defense wanted to show Hosam Smadi suffers from mental illness and has been on prescribed drugs for depression and schizophrenia since his arrest.
Xavier Amador, a psychiatrist, testified for the defense later in the day. He diagnosed Smadi with schizophrenia and disassociative disorder.
"He frequently has amnesias," he said. "He has many instances of out of body experiences, of feeling things are not real."
Amador said Smadi is very early in the course of his illness.
"[Samdi] has hallucinations and delusions...he has abused multiple substances," Amador says. "He has an addictive brain... he is also somebody who smokes marijuana, in particular, and used other drugs, quite literally with a vengeance. Some people can use drugs recreationally. He is not one of those people."
Amador testified that while talking to undercover FBI operatives, Smadi would take two or three hits on a bong packed with marijuana. Amador also says Smadi mentioned using cocaine helped him with depression, but only temporarily.
In e-mails to undercover FBI operatives, Smadi said: "I have seen many things while I am asleep... I read the siege of Iraq before it happened..."
Smadi told the undercover agent there was a "demon or devil" living with him in Italy, Texas, "that had tied his hands and it was like something grabbed his mouth."
According to Amador's testimony, Smadi believes something sometimes holds his tongue down -- not sure if it was a "spirit." Smadi claims he has had this experience numerous times in prison.
"He feels something holding him. He sees smoke, black smoke, something red darting around the room, " Amador testified. "He sees things in the wall in his (prison) cell...and has complained of voices."
Amador also says Smadi was obsessed with the death of his mother and even slept with her in the hospital, believing he could cure her of cancer.
Raymond Patterson, a psychiatrist testifying for the prosecution, painted a much different picture of Smadi.
"I don't think there's a lot of dispute about him having a reaction to his mother's death...but he weathered that," Patterson said.
Patterson said he doesn't believe Smadi has mental illness, which directly contradicts defense psychiatrist. Patterson reminded the court Smadi was able to hold a job and testified that Smadi was abusing antipsychotic drugs given to him in prison by snorting it.
Patterson's diagnosis: "adjustment disorder" with mixed anxiety and depressed mood. Patterson chalks up Smadi's reactions to the fact he was in prison for the first time in a high-profile crime and saw "no evidence of depression."
"He [Smadi] was adjusting to his being there," Patterson testified.
Smadi appeared in court looking a little different than many are used to seeing him. Now appearing with shoulder-length hair, he is unshaven with a light beard. Smadi also wore an orange jumpsuit and was not shackled or hand-cuffed.
When Smadi first walked into the courtroom, his father started sobbing, but they never made eye contact. As his father gave his testimony Hosam Smadi looked at his father, but appeared relaxed and calm, showing no obvious emotion.
The hearing wrapped around 5 p.m. Monday and will continue at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. NBCDFW and NBC 5 will continue to have the latest updates as we receive them.
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NBCDFW's Scott Gordon, Shane Allen and Greg Janda contributed to this report.