Jury selection to begin Wednesday in trial of man accused of fatally beating wife

SAN DIEGO - Jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday in the murder trial of an Iraqi man accused of fatally beating his wife in their El Cajon home after she asked for a divorce.

Opening statements in the trial of Kassim Alhimidi are expected next week.

Alhimidi, 49, was arrested on Nov. 8, 2012, by El Cajon police in what was first thought to be a hate crime. His wife, 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, was found mortally injured with at least six head wounds in their Skyview Street residence on March 21, 2012.

First-responders found a note in the home that read, "This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist."

The couple's 18-year-old daughter, Fatima, testified during a preliminary hearing last year that a similar threatening note was found in the family's home on March 13, 2012, eight days before her mother was attacked.

The daughter testified that her parents started having problems in August 2011. She said her mother -- a homemaker -- wanted to divorce her father and move to Texas, where her family lived.

The young woman said her father laughed at her mother when she showed him court papers needed to file for a divorce. She testified that her mother would get angry when her father wouldn't listen to her pleas for a divorce.

The witness said she was home on March 21, 2012, when she heard what she thought was a short "squeal" from her mother. She said she stayed in bed but eventually went to the kitchen to get something to eat, and saw her injured mother on the kitchen floor and called 911.

The mother of five died of head injuries in a hospital three days later.

Kassim Alhimidi told police he took his four younger children to school about 7:30 a.m. the day of the attack, came home, then went for a drive around 9:30 a.m.

Fatima testified that it would be unusual for her father to go for a random drive because he was constantly complaining about the price of gas.

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