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The former wife of murder suspect Yaser Said testified on Thursday that she asked if she could go with him and their two daughters for dinner on the night of Jan. 1, 2008.
Patricia Owens and 18-year-old Amina Said and 17-year-old Sarah Said had just returned home to North Texas after running away from Yaser Said, dashing off to Kansas and Oklahoma because they feared him, she said.
One concern was that Yaser Said didn’t want his daughters dating American boys and he had become threatening and controlling, witnesses have said.
But the father, who had asked them to come home, acted kind when he saw his family back at their Lewisville home, his ex-wife said.
“I didn’t think anything would happen,” Owens testified Thursday in a Dallas courtroom. “I called him after they left for dinner, but he said he was putting gas in the car and they would be home shortly.”
Soon afterward, Sarah and Amina Said were shot to death in Yaser Said’s taxi near an Irving hotel.
Yaser Said fled the scene, according to prosecutors, and stayed away from authorities for 12 years until he was arrested in August 2020 at a home in Justin.
Owens’ testimony came on the third day of Yaser Said’s capital murder trial in the deaths of their daughters.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. If convicted, Said, 65, will be automatically sentenced to life without parole.
The trial is being held in Criminal District Court No. 7 in Dallas.
On Wednesday, jurors heard the 911 call made by Sarah Said.
“Help! My dad shot me,” Sarah said in the recording. “I’m dying. I’m dying.”
“What’s going on, ma’am?” the 911 dispatcher asked.
“I’m dying. That’s what’s up,” Sarah said before yelling, “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!”
Earlier this week, Yaser Said’s defense attorney, Joseph Patton, told jurors that Said was a suspect because he is Muslim, and that evidence would indicate the investigation was botched. The defense raised questions about several of the 58 witnesses on call by prosecutors.
On Thursday, Owens told the Dallas County jury that leaving Yaser Said in December 2007 was not the first time she had left him.
“I always came home,” Owens told Patton when he questioned her Thursday.
Coy West, who works with the Hill County District Attorney’s Office, testified Thursday that Yaser Said was indicted on a sexual assault of a child case in 1998. The case involved Sarah and Amina Said.
At the time, West worked with the Hill County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office is in Hillsboro, which is about 60 miles south of Dallas.
“There was no conviction,” West testified. “In 1999, a report was made that the girls recanted the story.”
Owens said the family moved to Bedford, and then to Lewisville in 2006. She and the girls worked at Kroger, and her daughters started dating boys.
Owens told the jury that she was aware of it, but Yaser Said didn’t know until December 2007 when he looked at a telephone bill which led to the boys.
“Yaser had threatened (the girls) with a gun,” Owens said. “There was a handgun in the home.”
On Christmas Day 2007, Owens, her daughters and their boyfriends left North Texas. The boyfriends had proposed to the girls and they had said yes.
Owens said she took $4,000 and packed clothes in a trash bag to keep Yaser Said from knowing they had run away.
“We had to wait until he was not at the house,” Owens said. “It took four days, but on Christmas Day he left and we left.”
Owens told the jury on Thursday that the family returned to Lewisville because the girls needed to finish high school. Amina had already set her sights on Texas A&M.
The killings stopped all that.
Former Irving police Detective John Schingle testified Thursday that the girls’ boyfriends arrived at the Irving police station just hours after the fatal shooting, telling authorities the two girls had problems at home, they and their mother wanted to leave and they had fled to Kansas and Oklahoma before returning back to their Lewisville home.
The boys went to the Irving police station because they had heard the girls had been shot.
“They asked about them, and I had to tell them that they were dead,” Schingle said. “They were shocked and upset.”
Some family members said that the girls were victims of “honor killings” because their Egyptian-born father thought they had brought shame to the family.
Yaser Said has sent several letters to the judge in Dallas, proclaiming his innocence, according to WFAA-TV.
In one letter he wrote, “I was not happy about my kids’ dating activity. But, I did not do the killings or any plan to hurt them,” WFAA reported.
Owens told federal authorities that members of his family had indicated to her “little remorse for the victims,” and indicated support for their killer, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Hours before the bodies of the teens were found, Yaser Said had picked up his daughters in the taxi, and he never returned home, according to the capital murder warrant obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Two of Said’s family members have been sentenced for hiding him in North Texas for years.
The criminal complaints against his brother, Yassein Said, and his son, Islam Said, do not indicate where Yaser Said was from January 2008 until August 2017.
Nine years after the killings, investigators got a break when a maintenance worker at the Copper Canyon Apartments in Bedford spotted Yaser Said in an apartment rented by Islam Said, federal agents said.
Authorities located Yaser Said at a Justin home in August 2020.
His son Islam Said, 32, pleaded guilty in January 2021 to conspiracy to conceal a person from arrest, concealing a person from arrest and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.. He was later sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Yaser Said’s brother Yassein Said was sentenced in 2021 to 12 years for conspiracy to conceal a person from arrest, concealing a person from arrest and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
Throughout the investigation, federal agents and Irving police believed other members of Yaser Said’s family had assisted and communicated with him.