EL CAJON, Calif. - The oldest daughter of an Iraqi man charged with fatally beating his wife in their El Cajon home testified Thursday that her father laughed at her mother when she showed him court papers to file for a divorce.
Kassim Alhimidi, 49, was arrested Nov. 8 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 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 daughter 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.
"It hit me that my mom was in the kitchen cooking. And she just ... maybe a cup fell or a plate," Fatima said.
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.
"I was in shock," the daughter testified. "I was so scared I couldn't even look at her."
"I ran to the street and said, 'Please, just come in and get her,'" she added. "I just wanted them to get there and save my mom."
The mother of five died of head injuries in a hospital three days later.
Alhimidi -- who sold dates to grocery stores -- sobbed in court as his daughter described finding her mother's body.
The emotions from her mother's death were so raw that Fatima couldn't even look at her father to identify him in the courtroom.
"Can you indicate for us just approximately where he is seated and what he is wearing?" asked the prosecutor.
"I don't ... I don't want to look," replied Fatima.
The young woman said a similar threatening note was found in the home on March 13, 2012, eight days before her mother was attacked.
From the outset of their investigation into the slaying, police said they considered ethnic animosity only one of the possible motives. Authorities eventually arrested Alhimidi and charged him with domestic-violence murder.
He and his wife left Iraq in 1991 to avoid running afoul of dictator Saddam Hussein.
At the conclusion of Alhimidi's preliminary hearing, which resumes Friday, Judge Lantz Lewis will decide if enough evidence was presented for the defendant to proceed to trial.
Alhimidi told 10News in a jailhouse interview that he would never hurt his wife, much less brutally beat her to death.
Alhimidi faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted.
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