SSRI Stories note: A different article said this man was taking a medication for depression.
Mo Hassan Trial: Hassan Accuses Aasiya of Killing Her Brother
7:46 AM, Jan 26, 2011 | 32 comments
BUFFALO, NY – The Mo Hassan trial took another interesting turn on Day 5. Before jurors entered the courtroom, Hassan told the court that he may call the Judge, the District Attorney and the lead prosecutor in the case as witnesses.
This afternoon, jurors have been watching more enhanced surveillance video of the crime that took place on February 12, 2009. It appears that Hassan as well as the jurors are watching the video closely. It shows that Aasiya was beheaded. Her body was in one area and her head was a few feet away.
During cross-examination, Mo Hassan focused on domestic violence issues. He then alleged that Aasiya killed her brother. Hassan asked the Judge, "did you become aware during your investigation that Aasiya killed her brother?" He then asked Detective McMaster if he was aware that Aasiya suffered from child abuse.
Jurors are becoming quite engaged by this round of questions. One juror laughed out loud, another smiled, another juror appeared to have smirk during Hassan's cross-examination.
Orchard Park Police Lieutenant Eugene Wehrfritz takes the stand. He secured Mo Hassan's BMW in the parking lot after Hassan walked into the police station and said he killed his (Hassan's) wife.
Lt. Wehrfritz reads a photocopy of a note found in Hassan's pocket that night. The list includes: life insurance, names of children,Erie County Holding Center, breathing machine, prozac and phone numbers.
Lt. Wehrfritz testifies that during transit to the Erie County Holding Center, Hassan asked again for sleep apnea machine and that his children be sent to certain family members. Wehrfritz says he and Lt. McMaster went to Clarion Hotel and put crime tape up on door to be secured for evidence, then called Hamburg Police to post a police officer in front of the door so it couldn't be tampered with.
After they secured search warrants for the hotel room and Hassan's home, the lieutenant says they found two passports, Mo Hassan's and Michael Hassan's, Aasiya's checkbook and a key to the hotel safe. Divorce papers were also found in the hotel room, in Hassan's briefcase. Lt. Wehrfritz says bank information and a travel itinerary were found in a folder in the hotel room.
Tuesday's testimony ended with Hassan cross examining Lt. Wehrfritz. Court will resume on Wednesday at 10am.
Earlier this morning, there was a brief exchange between the Judge and Defendant over potential witnesses for the defense. Judge Thomas Franczyk said "so you intend to call me as a witness in the case I am presiding over?" Hassan replied, "it is a possibility." Judge Franczyk then said, "so what are we to do, have Mr. Schwartz step on the bench in my absence?" Hassan said "we will work out the logistics if it gets to that point."
Hassan wants to call other witnesses that he says would help him establish his claim that he was a battered spouse. Judge Franczyk says he has been informed by the witnesses that they "do not" intend to testify on Hassan's behalf.
Cameras are not allowed in the courtroom, but 2 On Your Side's Pete Gallivan and Marissa Bailey will provide updates via our Hassan Trial Reporter's Notebook.
When jurors were brought into the courtroom for the first time on Tuesday they watched surveillance video of the actual crime scene. The black and white grainy video captures one frame every five seconds. It's more like watching a progression of still images.
The video shows people leaving Bridges TV, turning out lights, then the defendant returning at 5:22 p.m. with a black bag. The lights remain out, briefly the hallway light goes on and off. Hassan is seen looking out the front window and moving around the front office in the dark.
At 5:53 p.m. the lights of a van appear in the video through a window. Aasiya opens the front door and goes back to the van to grab bags containing clothes.
Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable asks Orchard Park Police Detective John Payne about images captured in the video. "There is a dark area of movement in the lower left area of the video," said Curtin Gable, "then you see a dark object in the lower left corner of the screen?" Payne said "yes." Curtin Gable asked "and that was?" Payne said it was "Mrs. Hassan's head."
The next images show Michael Hassan, the defendant's son, checking the front door and windows. Then the police arrive.
Jurors later see camera angles from inside the building as officers enter the building and find Mrs. Hassan's body. Her head was approximately four to five feet from the body on the floor against the wall.
The defense made an earlier claim that Aasiya had threatened Mo at knifepoint that same day and that Mo Hassan feared Aasiya still had the knife in her pocket. Evidence shown in court of contents taken from her pockets after the murder did not include a knife. Instead there was a cell phone, cash, keys, a credit card, an appointment card, and a receipt.
Jurors saw photos of very gruesome pictures where the body and neck were positioned after the murder. One juror looked away and shook her head.
Detective Payne testified that the body was found about ten feet from the front door of Bridges TV. He said it would take a person about two seconds to walk that distance.
There was a gasp from on-lookers in the courtroom as the sweatshirt the victim was wearing was placed into evidence. Mo Hassan had his eyes fixed intently on the evidence. The sweatshirt shows a large amount of blood staining, as well as several stab marks and it is cut on the right side from shoulder to neckline.
Prosecutors lay out what items were found in Mo Hassan's vehicle. There were two boxes labeled "Buck" as in buck knife, also two empty knife sheaths, in a Wal-Mart bag.
The prosecution then called Orchard Park Police Detective Lieutenant Patrick McMaster. He described how the call for first aid was quickly canceled.
The prosecution also entered into evidence a bank envelope and a note found in Aasiya's van the night of her death. The note had a phone number on it for a domestic violence advocate. The M&T bank envelope contained 49 $100 bills.
Tuesday has been all about Hassan who is now representing himself. He is asking the judge to look at a personality assessment conducted by a Dr. Horowitz. Hassan claims that Aasiya abused
him. According to the report read by the Judge, "three children confirmed they witnessed Aasiya strike Mo, when he would block her way out or sit on her."
Hassan claims the report verifies that Aasiya lied. Judge Franczyk reads from the report that Aasiya lied about injuries she sustained, then later admitted they were the result of abuse at the hands of her husband who is now charged with her death.
On Monday, day four of the trial, Judge Thomas Franczyk ruled that Hassan can act as his own attorney.
Last week, Hassan pushed to fire his attorney, Jeremy Schwartz and asked that he be allowed to cross-examine witnesses. The judge denied that motion initially but changed his decision following a closed-door meeting Monday morning.
Franczyk said, "Bottom line is he does have the right to steer his own ship, even if he is steering it into an iceberg." Reluctantly, I am going to grant Mr. Hassan's wish to represent himself."