A man accused ofin a Dallas-area taxi in 2008, jurors in his capital murder trial were told Monday that he fled the vehicle before they were killed because he thought someone was going to kill him. A family member has said the killings were “honour killings” carried out by the teenagers’ father Yaser Said.
“Definitely not, I did not kill my daughters,” said Said, whose Arabic testimony was translated into English.
Said evaded arrest for over 12 years following the murders of his daughters, 18-year-old Amina Said and 17-year-old Sarah Said. Yaser Said, who faces an automatic life sentence if convicted, said he did not turn himself in because he did not believe he would get a fair trial.
Both the prosecution and the defense rested their cases on Monday afternoon. Jurors are scheduled to hear closing arguments Tuesday morning.
Said (65) worked as a taxi driver, and a former police investigator testified that the taxi in which the sisters’ bodies were found on New Year’s Day 2008 near a hotel had been lent to Said.
Sarah Said was shot nine times and Amina Said was shot twice.
In a letter written to the judge overseeing the case, Said had said he was unhappy with the children’s “dating activity” but denied killing his daughters.
Said told jurors that on the night the sisters were killed, he took them to dinner because he wanted to “resolve the problem” after they had left home a week earlier and gone to Oklahoma with their mother and boyfriends.
“I was upset because in my culture there is something to be upset about,” said Said, who testified that he was born in Egypt, came to the United States in 1983 and later became an American citizen.
Gail Gattrell, the sisters’ great-aunt, has called the deaths an “honour killing”, where a woman is murdered by a relative to protect the family’s honour.
Prosecutor Lauren Black said during opening statements that 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”. Black told jurors that Said was “obsessed with possession and control.”
Said’s ex-wife, Patricia Owens, has testified that Said eventually convinced her to return to Texas from Oklahoma.
Said testified that while driving to dinner with his daughters on the night they were killed, he thought someone was following the taxi. He said he didn’t know who it might be, but assumed it might be friends of his daughters. He testified that he was afraid someone would hurt him, so he left his daughters in the taxi and ran into nearby woods.
“I didn’t expect anyone to hurt them,” Said said.
Jurors heard a 911 call Sarah Said made on a cell phone, telling the operator that her father shot her and that she was dying.
“Help,” Sarah was heard saying on the 911 call. “I’m dying. God. Stop it.”
Defense attorney Joseph Patton said in opening statements that the evidence would not support a conviction and that police were too quick to focus on Said. He also said that in moments of extreme trauma, such as being shot multiple times, people can have hallucinations.
Amina Said’s boyfriend has testified that on the night she and her sister were killed, he and their father saw them sitting in the taxi with their father.
Yaser Said, who had been wanted on a murder warrant since the murders. He was finally arrested in August 2020 in Justin, about 55 miles northwest of Dallas. His son, Islam Said, and his brother, Yassim Said, were later convicted of helping him evade arrest.