Jurors on Tuesday convicted a man of shooting his own daughters to death.
The murder conviction was years in the making. Sisters Sarah Said, 17, and Amina Said, 18, were found dead in a taxi cab in front of the Omni Hotel in Irving, Texas, on Jan. 1, 2008, according to Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.
Their father, defendant Yaser Said, 65, was nowhere to be found. He fled, winding up on the FBI’s Most Wanted List while he hid at a family home, according to local reports. Investigators found him at the residence in Justin, Texas, in 2020. He maintained he was the victim of a botched law enforcement investigation, that he loved his daughters, and that he did not kill them.
But it was daughter Sarah who mustered the strength to make a final call to 911 and identify her father as the killer.
“Help, my dad shot me!” she said in 911 audio played before the court. “I’m dying!”
She had been shot nine times. Her sister Amina was shot twice.
Yaser Abdel Said has been convicted of Capital Murder in the deaths of his daughters, Sarah and Amina Said.
He receives an automatic sentence of Life in Prison without Parole. pic.twitter.com/pWm9pI857D
— Dallas County DA (@Dallas_DA) August 9, 2022
According to prosecutors, Yaser was obsessive and abusive. They said he fixated on his daughters dating non-Muslim American boys. His behavior was well-known.
“I knew the threat was real and [Amina] told us her dad might kill them,” said family friend Ruth Trotter, whose son Joseph dated Amina, according to WFAA.
Amina and Sarah had previously went to police with a sexual assault claim against their father, but those charges reportedly were dropped.
Authorities said the girls were afraid of Yaser.
“I think it frustrated him and he couldn’t handle it and he killed them,” Irving police Detective Eric Curtis reportedly said.
Several relatives described the murders as “honor killings,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Perhaps biggest moment so far was listening to prosecutor read an email Amina Said reportedly sent her HS teacher days before murders confiding her father was arraigning her marriage, she was scared he would kill her & sis and they planned to run away @NBCDFW https://t.co/mweu36ZbKS pic.twitter.com/agPGmTA2X0
— Maria Guerrero (@Maria_NBC5) August 2, 2022
Sarah, 17, and Amina Said, 18, had big hopes of going to college and living the American dream — until those dreams were cut short when they were shot and killed. Authorities said their father is responsible. https://t.co/fiaElcSoNi #khou11 @wfaa
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) August 2, 2022
The defendant made no secret of his displeasure about his daughter’s lives, though he denied committing murder.
“I was not happy about my kids’ dating activity,” he reportedly wrote a judge while in jail. “But, I did not do the killings or any plan to hurt them.”
He testified on his own behalf. He said he was driving the aforementioned taxi cab to dinner with his daughters when he believed someone was following them, according to WFAA and the Star-Telegram. Said thought the people might have been his daughter’s friends or someone out to kill him. Thinking he was in danger but that his daughters were safe, he said he abandoned the vehicle and told the girls they could take it.
He described this as a “very stupid decision to make,” according to the Star-Telegram.
Defense lawyer Joseph Patton suggested Sarah during the 911 call was hallucinating due to the trauma of being shot, according to CBS News. The defense reportedly argued that investigators botched the case and zeroed in on Said because he was Muslim.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Lauren Black reportedly confronted Said about why he left his gun in the taxi if he thought he was in danger and why he did not use his cell phone to call for help. She also grilled him on the reasoning for leaving his daughters in the taxi, according to the Star-Telegram. She pointed out he did not go to their funerals.
“Yes, because of the unfair and hateful media coverage at that time,” he responded.