What to Know
- Yaser Abdel Said, 65, is accused of killing his teenage daughters in 2008 in what prosecutors have called an "honor killing."
- Said spent six years on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List before he was arrested in Justin in August 2020.
- The death penalty is not an option in this case. If convicted of capital murder, Said would automatically be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The capital murder trial of Yaser Abdel Said, a 65-year-old cab driver from Lewisville accused of murdering his two teenage daughters in a purported "honor killing," began Tuesday in Dallas.
The girls' bodies were found in their father's taxi cab outside the Omni hotel in Irving, both of them had been shot multiple times. Before she died, Sarah called 911 and told the operator, "Help, my dad shot me! I'm dying, I'm dying!"
Said disappeared and had not been seen for 12 years until his arrest in Justin by the FBI in August 2020.
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Said entered a not guilty plea Tuesday and faces an automatic life sentence if convicted.
JURORS HEAR VICTIM'S 911 CALL, DEFENDANT UNEMOTIONAL
Silence filled Dallas County District Court 7 Wednesday as prosecutors prepared to present the chilling 911 call made by a dying Sarah Said on New Year 2008.
“My dad shot me! I’m dying! I’m dying,” yelled a frantic woman identified as Sarah.
Yaser Said sat emotionless, holding a finger to his ear to listen to the disturbing audio.
The potential key piece of evidence was admitted on day two of testimony, despite objections by the defense who previously cautioned jurors their expert will later testify that the 17-year-old victim may have been ‘hallucinating’ after being shot nine times when she named her father as her shooter.
Jurors also saw the orange taxi cab where she and her 18-year-old sister, Amina, were found shot to death.
Hotel employee Nathan Watson testified about the moment a taxi cab driver reported seeing two injured people in the cab lane of the hotel.
“I could see a young lady who had her eyes fixed open and there was stuff coming out of her nose,” said Watson.
Police allege these were ‘honor killings’ committed by an abusive, controlling and possessive father who was angry his daughters dated outside their culture and had left home recently.
Said’s three public defenders argue this was a botched police investigation fixated on a Muslim man in a post-9/11 world full of Islamophobia.
Day two of testimony ended with a former crime scene investigator who wheeled in a cart full of evidence including the bullet-riddled cab seats, shell casings and projectiles found throughout the car and photographs showing a shell casing found on Amina’s shoulder.
Former Irving police officer Steven Hazard testified he believed the girls were not shot at the location they were found.
He also told evidence on Sarah’s body proved she was shot at very close range.
YASER SAID TRIAL
MOTHER, GIRLS FLED HOME DAYS BEFORE THE MURDERS
During opening statements on Tuesday, prosecutor Lauren Black said Said was "obsessed with possession and control."
About a week before the two teens were killed, they fled with their mother from their home in Lewisville to Oklahoma to get away from their father, Black said.
The sisters had become "very scared for their lives," and the decision to leave was made after Said "put a gun to Amina's head and threatened to kill her," the prosecutor said.
According to Black, in another act of "control" and "manipulation" by Said, he told his wife and daughters that he had changed, and he convinced them to return home.
The evening the sisters were shot, their father wanted to take just the two of them to a restaurant, Black said.
In a letter written to the judge overseeing the case, Said said he was not happy with his kids' "dating activity" but denied killing his daughters.
Defense attorney Joseph Patton said in his opening statement that the evidence would not support a conviction, that police were too quick to focus on Said, who was born in Egypt, and suggested that anti-Muslim sentiment played into that focus.
More than 58 people are expected to be called to testify, including the girls' mother as well as local and federal investigators and experts on Muslim culture.
The judge is also allowing prosecutors to tell jurors about allegations that Said sexually abused his own daughters, who later recanted.
Yaser Said, who had been sought on a capital murder warrant since the slayings, was placed on the FBI's most-wanted list. In August 2020 Said was arrested in Justin and two relatives were arrested in Euless. The relatives were identified by the Dallas FBI as Said's brother Yassein and his son Islam.
Both men were charged with harboring a known fugitive and are now serving time in federal prison.
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