Back story on the 1989 Islamic honor killing in St. Louis by a Palestinian Muslim and his wife, St. Louis Honor Killing – “Die Quickly! Die My Daughter, Die”:
The seven-minute tape of the killing, on which the father is heard shouting in Arabic “Die quickly!” in answer to his daughter’s cries, chilled the jury of seven women and five men and shocked court officials who thought they had seen and heard everything.
“It’s worse than any movie, any film, anything I thought that I would ever hear in my life,” said Bob Craddick, an assistant prosecutor for seven years, who has heard the tape seven or eight times.
via Missouri woman dies in prison while serving life sentence for 1989 slaying of daughter – Seymour Tribune. h/t Iron Burka
JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — A Missouri woman died in prison Wednesday while serving a life sentence for the 1989 slaying of her teenage daughter in a crime that was chillingly captured on an FBI surveillance tape and apparently prompted by the girl’s resistance to the family’s Islamic traditions.
Maria Isa, 70, died at a prison in Vandalia “of apparent natural causes,” the Missouri Department of Corrections said in a written statement. Isa had been in prison since 1991.
She was convicted along with her husband, Zein Isa, in the fatal stabbing of their 16-year-old daughter Palestina Isa in St. Louis. The killing was caught on a surveillance tape by the FBI, which had placed a microphone in the family’s apartment because it suspected Zein Isa of being involved with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
The recording captured the girl’s screams for mercy and her father saying in Arabic, “Die, my daughter, die!” The FBI wasn’t monitoring the taping at the time of the killing.
Zein and Maria Isa initially were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1991. While awaiting execution, Zein Isa died in prison in February 1997 after a long illness.
Maria Isa’s sentence was overturned on appeal because of questionable jury instructions and, after a new hearing, she was re-sentenced to life without parole in June 1997.
Isa was accused of holding down her daughter while her husband repeatedly stabbed her after Palestina Isa came home from her first day of work at a fast-food restaurant. Maria Isa’s attorney had asserted in 1997 that she had been trying to protect the girl.
Witnesses at the couple’s trial testified that the daughter was a popular and accomplished student who frequently clashed with her fundamentalist Muslim parents and older sisters over her boyfriend, job and time spent away from home.
The slaying of Palestina Isa was the focus of a 1995 book by St. Louis author Ellen Harris that was entitled, “Guarding the Secrets: Palestinian Terrorism and a Father’s Murder of His Too-American Daughter.”
The nonfiction book described the slaying as an Islamic “honor killing” in which a man kills a female relative for disobeying or disgracing the family. It included comments from other members of the Isa family, including the girl’s older sisters, who said Palestina had wanted to be like American teenagers against her family’s wishes.
More from the back story (note the pre-9/11 mindset compared to the fear of jurors today):
On the night of her death, Tina’s parents express anger on the tape that she was at work, then seem not to believe that she was at work at all. Then Tina’s father says: “Here, listen, my dear daughter, do you know that this is the last day. Tonight, you’re going to die?”
Tina responds: “Huh?”
Zein Isa replies: “Do you know that you are going to die tonight?”
The girl’s mother asks her questions about items in her schoolbag. In the midst of her conversation with her mother, Tina begins to shriek in fear.
“Keep still, Tina!” says her father.
“Mother, please help me!”
“Huh? What do you mean?” the mother says.
“What help?” the mother responds.
Tina screams, and Maria says: “Are you going to listen? Are you going to listen?”
Screaming louder, Tina gasps: “Yes! Yes! Yes, I am!” then coughs and adds, “No. Please!” Six Wounds in Chest
The mother says, “Shut up!”
Tina continues to cry, but her voice is unintelligible.
“Die! Die quickly! Die quickly!” the father says.
The girl moans, seems to quiet, then screams one last time.
“Quiet, little one! Die my daughter, die!” the father says.
Tina was stabbed six times in the chest with a boning knife, which pierced her heart, one lung, and liver, investigators said.
Mr. Zein admitted on the witness stand that he put his foot on his daughter’s mouth to quiet her. His wife did not testify.
An alternate juror, Carl Smith, said he would think about the tape for the rest of his life. “I cried because I wish I could have been there to help her,” he said.
Another alternate, Jean Lloyd, said, “For him to say ‘die quickly’ and put his foot over her mouth, at some point I just wanted to stand up and scream.”
While deliberating, the jurors asked to rehear the tape of the killing. They did, over the protest of defense lawyers. Outside the courtroom, one lawyer said: “We don’t want them to play it. If they hear it again, it’ll kill us.” Cultural Rifts Remain
After the guilty verdicts, there were signs of the same cultural divisions that seemed to have caused the killing. As the findings were announced Friday, the parents looked straight ahead.
On one side of the courtroom, Tina Isa’s high school friends burst into tears; across the aisle, the Isa family and friends quietly clenched hands.
Soraia Salem, one of Tina’s sisters, said the system failed her sister. She said the family sought help from the police in the months before the murder, even asking for Tina to be placed in a foster home. But prosecutors said they found only one police report.
After the verdicts were read, an agitated family friend who would give her name only as Mrs. Abraham expressed her dismay at what she saw as the jury’s failure to acknowledge the Palestinian culture. “I feel it’s not right. We follow our religion,” said Mrs. Abraham. She said the Isas had to discipline their daughter or lose respect. “They’d be embarrassed in front of everybody in the country like somebody when they go without their clothes outside.”
How many more Mrs. Abraham’s are there in the U.S. now with the same attitudes?
But the third alternate juror had a different view. Recalling how the tape affected him, Charles Heuvelman said the parents had no right to kill their child “just because she wants to be an American teen-ager.”
1989. Who will stand up and say the same today as Muslims kill their wives and children in the U.S. and Canada?
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