The Texas father accused of fatally shooting his daughters in the back of his taxi in an “honor killing” allegedly sexually assaulted the two girls years prior—and then threatened to kill their mother if they didn’t recant their claims to police.
The shocking accusation against Yaser Said came during testimony by his ex-wife, Patricia Owen, in Dallas County Court on Thursday during his capital murder trial. Breaking down several times on the stand, Owens testified that her daughters, Sarah and Amina, told her in 1998 that Said had touched them.
After learning about the allegations, Owens said that she went with the daughters to the Hill County Sheriff’s Department “to make a report” before moving to another town to be near her sister. At the time, Amina would have been around 8 years old and Sarah would have been 7.
The charges were ultimately dropped after the girls recanted out of fear of their father, she said.
“He wanted me to go back to him and if I didn’t go back to him, he threatened to kill me and my family,” Owens said, adding that Said stated he wanted to kill her after she filed the charges. “He said nothing would happen to him.”
As Owens testified, Said sat emotionlessly across the room.
Years later, on New Year’s Day in 2008, prosecutors allege that Said shot his daughters in an “honor killing” outside Dallas after learning they had begun dating and could no longer “control them.” The grisly execution came days after Owens and her daughters had escaped from Said, even successfully relocating to Oklahoma before returning to Texas after he reported them missing.
Prosecutors allege that after the murders, Said evaded authorities for 12 years, landing him on the FBI’s Most Wanted List before he was ultimately found in 2020 hiding about 40 minutes away from the crime scene in Justin, Texas. Said, 64, has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder charge for the crime that his lawyers have insisted was only pinned on him because he is Muslim.
Owens’ appearance marked the third day of testimony in the prosecution’s presentation against Said, whom they allege was “obsessed with possession and control.” That control, Owens said, included choosing where the family would live and who they would communicate with.
“He controlled what they did, who they talked to, who they could be friends with, if they—and who they—could date. And he controlled everything in his household,” prosecutor Lauren Black said during opening statements on Tuesday.
While she left Said several times throughout their marriage, Owens said she always returned out of fear.
One of those times, she said, was in 1998 after her daughters accused him of abuse. After leaving for Garland, Texas, Owens said that she ultimately had to file another report with local police after Said and his brother repeatedly called her and threatened harm if she didn’t obey them and return.
While she dropped the Garland charges, Owens said that in October 1998 she applied for a protective order against Said on behalf of her girls. She never went through with the protective order, however, because she and her daughters “went back” to Said.
Shortly after, her daughters recanted their sexual abuse allegations to the police.
“I was scared not to go back,” she told jurors. “Yaser was abusive.”
In the weeks leading up to the murders, prosecutors allege Said had grown “angrier” after feeling he had lost control of his wife and daughters, who had been dating non-Muslim men. Owens said that while she knew about her daughter’s boyfriends, the trio kept the information from her husband out of fear of his reaction.
It wasn’t until December 2007, however, when prosecutors allege Said put a gun to Amina’s head and threatened to kill her, that the teenagers and their mother began to hatch their plan to escape shortly before Christmas.
Owens said that on Christmas Day, after Said went to work, she and her daughters escaped to Oklahoma with their clothes “in trash bags.” The next day, however, Said reported them missing to the Lewisville Police Department—forcing Owens to call an officer to insist she was “alive and well” but was fearful of her husband.
Amina and Sarah would eventually return to the Dallas area on New Year’s Eve, after Owens said that Said and his brother repeatedly called begging her to return. She said that Said left messages that he had changed and that he would leave the house if they didn’t want him there.
The mother added that part of her decision to bring the girls back to Dallas was so Amina could finish high school and not jeopardize her college scholarship. Prosecutors allege that Said eventually lured his daughters into his taxi, where Amina was sitting in the front passenger seat and Sarah was in the back.
Owens was told “to stay home” as her husband drove around her daughters to talk. Authorities believe that the daughters were shot before 7:30 p.m. near the Omni Hotel. Around the time, Sarah Said called 911 twice, stressing she was “dying” after her father shot her.
“She’s asking for help and she names her killer, her father, Yaser Said,” Black said about Sarah’s 911 call.
A defense attorney for Said, however, insisted in opening arguments that his client was targeted because of his faith—and that the calls to police only indicate that Sarah was in an extreme moment of trauma. Attorney Joel Patton also repeatedly called into question Owens’ ability to answer questions, accusing prosecutors of leading her and stressing that some of the mother’s allegations were false.
“It is wrong for the government to generalize an entire culture, criminalize an entire culture, to fit their narrative, and to fit their objective,” Patton said on Tuesday. “The state wants to convict Yaser for being Muslim in 2008.”
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