A North Texas man was sentenced to death on Thursday for drowning his two young sons in a Dallas-area creek.
The Dallas County jury took about three and a half hours to sentence Naim Rasool Muhammad. The same jury took less than 10 minutes last week to find him guilty of capital murder in the deaths of 5-year-old Naim and 3-year-old Elijah.
"I apologize for bringing any pain and hurt on anybody for the actions that I have caused to you all," Muhammad said after the sentence was announced.
He said that the only reason he did it was because he wanted to be a father and thought that was being taken away.
Muhammad killed Naim and Elijah in August 2011. Authorities say he forced the boys and their mother, Kametra Sampson, into a car and started driving on what was supposed to be Naim's first day of school.
"You've shown that you have no boundaries, that nothing is sacred to you -- not even the bond between a father and son," Sampson said after the verdict was announced.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Tammy Kemp called Muhammad "a monster" and "100 percent pure evil." That angered Muhammad's mother, who stood up and shouted, "That is not a monster. He is my son." She bolted from the courtroom but could be heard shouting in the corridor outside as Kemp resumed her closing argument.
Defense attorney Paul Johnson told jurors that the children's deaths were, indeed, a horrible crime -- one deserving of life imprisonment without parole. He told jurors that Muhammad's neglect by a mother who was a crack-addicted prostitute and upbringing amid violence and sexual abuse warped him. That, Johnson said, was sufficient mitigation to spare him the death penalty.
"If it's not this case, what is it?" he said. "He is not evil, but he has committed an evil act."
Confession, Quick Judgment
During a taped confession from an interview with investigators that played in court May 14, Muhammad confessed to the murders.
The video showed Muhammad telling investigators that he told the children to pretend they were swimming and then held them underwater until they drowned. As the interview played, the defendant sobbed so loudly it could be heard in the hallway.
Jurors took less than 10 minutes the following day to convict Muhammad of capital murder.
Prosecutors said Muhammad is a threat to society and that there is no reason he should be allowed to live.
"I don't have to recall the facts of the case because, although it was not filled with blood or gore, it was a horror unimagined," prosecutor Sherre Sweet said.
Muhammad, who has a criminal record spanning 20 years, killed his sons after their mother began dating someone new, prosecutors say.
"It was the ultimate textbook family violence power and control play -- 'If I can't get you to do what I want you to do through violence, I will go to your very heartstrings,'" Sweet said.
Prosecutors Detail Violence
Kemp detailed for the jury, step by step, the moments leading to the children's deaths south of Dallas.
She said Muhammad used a brick to force the boys and their mother into his vehicle as she walked the children to school.
Their mother jumped out of the vehicle at an intersection and alerted a nearby constable, who called police but did not pursue the fleeing vehicle. Constables are mainly process servers in civil cases.
Muhammad's mother later called 911 to say her son had drowned the boys and she had their unresponsive bodies.
Court records show Muhammad had a history of violence. Sampson told jurors that Muhammad routinely beat her, often for things as small as burning rice. Texas Child Protective Services officials said they were monitoring Sampson and the couple's three children after receiving a report of family violence.
Authorities have said Muhammad also tried but failed to take his youngest child, a 1-year-old, from another location earlier in the day.
The children had been under watch by Texas Child Protective Services since early 2011, after the agency received a referral of family violence. CPS declined to say who made the referral but said the three children and their mother were living together in a shelter at the time.
NBC 5's Christine Lee contributed to this report.
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