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New details are coming to light in the capital murder trial of Yaser Said, the man accused of killing his teen daughters as part of an “honor killing.”
Yaser Said, 65, stands accused of killing his daughters, 17-year-old Sarah and 18-year-old Amina, on New Year's Day in 2008, under the belief that the girls had brought shame onto his family.
In their opening statements on Tuesday, prosecutors accused Said of killing his daughters because he was unhappy with them dating American boys outside their Islamic faith, according to ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA.
“He controlled what they did, who they talked to, who they could be friends with, and who they could date,” said prosecutor Lauren Black.
Black presented an e-mail authored by Amina to her history teacher on Dec. 21, 2007 — just days before the double murder.
“He has simply made our lives a nightmare,” Amina wrote. “He’s one man, not God.”
In the e-mail, Amina accused her father of trying to set up an arranged marriage to which she had not consented later in the year.
“We don’t want police involved until we are totally ready,” Amina continued. “I am so scared right now. It’s crazy. Ok, well, as you know, we’re not allowed to date, and my dad is arranging my marriage. My dad said I cannot put it off anymore, and I have to get married this year.”
Amina also told her teacher that Said threatened Sarah with physical harm if she didn’t reveal everything she knew about Amina. Yaser Said had reportedly held each girl at gunpoint at different points in December 2007.
On Christmas Day of 2007 — four days after Amina wrote the e-mail — the girls fled with Amina's boyfriend, Edgar Ruiz, Sarah's boyfriend, Erik Panameno, and the girls' mother, Patricia Owens Said, and rented an apartment in Oklahoma.
Yaser Said reported his family missing to Lewisville police officer Jason Williams on Dec. 26, who claimed Said made an emotional plea.
"Find my daughters. I need them,” Said allegedly told the reporting officer, according to Williams’ testimony.
On Dec. 27, Patricia Owens Said called the Lewisville police and said they were alive and well.
At some point, Ruiz left to go to a New Year's Eve party back in Lewisville and, on Dec. 30, he got a text from Amina that her mom had convinced everyone else to go back to Texas to "run errands."
“It wasn’t a group decision,” Panameno testified of the move, according to the Morning News. “I think Sarah wanted to fix things and Patricia kind of convinced us all it was going to be safe.”
Amina reportedly refused to return to her father's home when the group arrived back on New Year's Eve, opting instead to go to Ruiz's house. Her aunt testified that she encouraged the girl to file for a restraining order against her father.
Ruiz testified on Tuesday that Patricia Owens Said showed up at his home around 5:00 p.m. and dragged Amina home, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Amina, he said, blamed him for not protecting her, according to the Morning News.
“She said that I would never see she again,” Ruiz stated. “This was the last time I would ever see her. Then she walked out.”
Ruiz added, “She knew she was going to die.”
He testified that saw the sisters drive by with their father — but not their mother — in their father's taxi shortly thereafter.
Said allegedly took Sarah and Amina in his taxi under the premise that he wanted to take them out for a bite to eat. Instead, prosecutors say he parked the vehicle near the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas, near Irving, Texas, and then shot both teens multiple times.
In her final breaths, Sarah — having been shot nine times — managed to call authorities shortly after 7:30 p.m. and implicated her father in her death.
Prosecutors played the 911 call — which lasted just over four minutes — in the Dallas County courtroom on Wednesday morning.
“Help, my dad shot me,” Sarah said in the breathy 911 call. “I’m dying. I’m dying. I’m dying.”
Yaser Said moved in his chair as a 911 call played with his teen daughter’s final words on Wednesday, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Authorities scrambled to learn the victims’ location, but Sarah was unable to provide an address to the emergency dispatcher.
"Oh my God, not again,” Sarah continued in the call. “Stop it. Stop it.”
Jurors reportedly squirmed in their seats, according to the Dallas outlet.
Nathan Watson, 45 — the hotel manager on duty on the night of the murders — testified that he called 911 about an hour later to report the discovery of the teens’ bodies.
According to Watson’s testimony, a second taxicab driver investigated Said’s vehicle after it hadn’t moved up.
The driver alerted a doorman when finding the victims were “hurt really bad.”
Watson said he went to the orange-colored cab, finding one sister in the passenger’s seat and the other in the back. It was dark, Watson told the court, but he could see one of the victims had her eyes “fixed open” and “stuff was coming out of her nose.”
When he called 911, Watson told dispatchers the girls didn’t “look alive,” according to The Dallas Morning News.
Said was nowhere to be found and spent the next 12 years on the run. He was added to the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list in 2014. Many assumed he returned to his native Egypt, while some rumors placed him in New York City.
He was captured in 2020 in Justin, Texas — less than 30 miles northeast of the 2008 crime scene.
Said’s brother, Yassein Said, and son, Islam Said, were later arrested in Euless, Texas and convicted of harboring a fugitive, according to CBS News. They are both serving time in federal prison.
Patricia Owens Said divorced her husband after the murders and dropped his last name, according to the Morning News.
The trial is expected to continue throughout the week. If convicted, Yaser Said faces mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole.