Muzzammil Hassan on stand during cross-examination (2/2)
BUFFALO, NY --- Day 11 of the Muzzammil Hassan trial started Wednesday morning with the prosecution's cross-examination of Hassan. Then, his daughter Sonia was called to the stand. At the end of court on Wednesday, Hassan said he had no intention of re-calling his son Michael in front of the jury.
The case will reconvene today at 10 a.m. with subpoenaed witnesses.
Read more of the courtroom back and forth in our Hassan Trial Reporter's Notebook.
Hassan ended his testimony on Tuesday, after 4 days on the stand.
After a morning cross-examination by the prosecution, Hassan called his daughter Sonia to the stand to testify on his behalf. She already testified earlier in the case after being called by the prosecution.
Hassan was initially turned down from being able to cross-examine his children when they were witnesses called by the prosecution. The first time they took the stand, both Sonia and Michael told the jury that Aasiya was not abusive to their father.
On Tuesday, Judge Franczyk said he would allow Hassan's children to testify and gave Hassan, who's acting as his own attorney, instructions about how to question them.
2 On Your Side's Marissa Bailey has been reporting each detail in the afternoon's testimony.
In the reporters notebook, Bailey describes that while questioning Sonia, Hassan took a lot of pauses, didn't seem to have a clear train of thought, and shuffled papers around a lot.
At one point, Hassan asked Sonia to read from statement she wrote during a Child Protective Services investigation at their home in 2008. It stated "To whom it may concern: I Sonia Hassan do not feel that my safety is in danger when around Muzzammil Hassan." Sonia told the court, "I didn't believe in any of the sentences I wrote." The prosecution asks about the note in her cross examination. Sonia says she "definitely" felt unsafe in her home.
Later in the questioning, Sonia stated that she opened a new bank account at HSBC, because she didn't trust her father to have access to her money. She was concerned he would have access to an M&T account, because he used to work there.
Hassan did not question on one particular subject at length. At one point, Sonia says, "You're having me jump around all over the place so it's hard to get my thoughts straight but I don't remember that incident..."
Sonia does not look her father in the eye at all during her testimony.
The cross-examination of Muzzammil Hassan continued after lunch on Wednesday afternoon.
Among the items the prosecution touched on was the "Memo of Understanding" or contract between Muzzammil and Aasiya. The prosecution went through the specifics in the contract, which include: "no putdowns, insults or 'giving the finger', no demands only requests, no angry outbursts, no blaming, no defining what the other person thinks or feels, no walking out, and no sleeping in the other room."
The prosecution then asked about a December 2006 police report where Aasiya alleged that Hassan tried to keep her awake at night by quote: "Physically tries to keep me awake by pouring water over me, taking pillows and shaking me." Hassan doesn't directly answer the question.
Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable then brought up a letter that Hassan sent from the Holding Center to the Buffalo News and Tom Bauerle. He wrote the letter as if it was being sent from his mother in Texas. The letter that was supposed to be sent to Bauerle ended up at his family's home; they are the ones that turned it over to prosecutors. Hassan says, "I don't want you to twist things inappropriately." After going back and forth with Curtin Gable, he says he was "translating" the words from his mother.
In the morning session, the prosecution started cross-examination by asking Hassan if he killed his wife. He responded by saying "things happen".
Curtin Gable has continued her examination with rapid-fire questioning about details of the attack. Curtin Gable showed the jury autopsy photos and asked Hassan if he caused the stab wounds to his wife Aasiya's back. Hassan responds, "I blacked out, but if the stab wounds were there, it happened".
Rapid fire questions about every detail of the incident keep coming from the prosecutor. The defendant continues to say that the attack happened so fast that he doesn't remember the details.
Curtin Gable asks, "Did you think after the 20th stab wound that she was still a threat to you?... You didn't stop until you cut off her head, correct?... Did you stab her after you cut off her head?"
Hassan states that he did not see a knife in Aasiya's hand when the attack began. He goes on to say that they had a 5 second conversation before Aasiya attacked him. Hassan says "I believed she had a knife." Curtin Gable asks, "but there's no knife in the hallway other than the two you had, correct?" Hassan: "Correct".
The prosecutor now asks Hassan if he walked past his children in cold van in the parking lot without turning it on. Hassan said he did that, because he had an order of protection preventing him from going near them. Curtin Gable's question in response: "You just killed your wife, and you want this jury to believe that you were worried about an order of protection?!"
The prosecution brings up more text messages, including one from February 6th (2009) where Hassan texted Aasiya "I am happy to divorce you. The passports have been cancelled." That refers to the passports for the younger children the couple had fought about.
The prosecution also presents another text Hassan sent, this one to a female friend, Yasmine Kahn. That one says, "I met with her councillor, he was clueless. I don't know what I would have done if God hadn't sent you to show me the way, I love you." He sent the same text to another female friend.
The prosecution says that same week, Hassan starts living at the Clarion, opens a new account at the Bank of America, and was using a P.O. Box as an address. He put $90,000 in that account, and $5,000 in a safe deposit box. Hassan says it was for Michael and Sonia's college fund, and he didn't know that the divorce papers prevented him from moving funds.
Hassan is asked if he called police after Aasiya allegedly pulled a knife out on him the day of the attack. He says, "no." Curtin Gable then says, "you were going through a divorce, wouldn't that type of thing help you in a divorce? Wouldn't having a police report showing your wife pulled a knife on you help you get custody of your children?"
Hassan goes on to say that Aasiya pulled the knife out on him to force him to call one of the women she believed he was having an affair with. He says she told him he would be back later to "deal with" another woman Aasiya believed Muzzammil was cheating with.
Hassan is then asked about his trip to Wal-Mart where he bought two knives. Hassan says one of the hunting knives was intended to be a gift.
The prosecution then presses Hassan about the details of the attack. Hassan is asked if he made a To-Do list at the police station. Curtin Gable says, "you were pretty focused then." The list seems to deal with things Hassan needed to take care of before heading to the holding center.
According to 2 On Your Side's Pete Gallivan, who is in the courtroom, the heads of jury members are turning back and forth between the prosecutor and defendant, describing it "like a morbid tennis match".
Gallivan also says that prosecutors told Hassan to have other witnesses ready for this afternoon. That made it seem as though the prosecution intended to finish cross-examination by lunch, but Hassan was still on the stand by 3:45 p.m.
It is expected that Hassan's two older children, Michael and Sonia will take the stand again this afternoon.
At 10:35 a.m., Hassan entered the courtroom. The prosecution team arrived a half-hour earlier - spending the time to organize the evidence they brought with them.
Judge Thomas Franczyk laid down some ground rules before the cross-examination began, instructing Hassan to just answer simple "yes or no" questions with a "yes or a no". The judge also stated that the answers need to pertain to the question. Hassan was reprimanded by the judge for not following those instructions - as he tried to give more detailed answers.
Hassan's legal advisor, Jeremy Schwartz, told the court he has several subpoenas out for Wednesday and Thursday.
Spectators lined up outside the courtroom in the gallery for another day on Wednesday, but there aren't as many as there were on Tuesday. It is unclear whether or not it's because of the weather, or because Hassan has wrapped up testimony.
On Day 10, Hassan told the court he "felt a sense of enormous peace" after his wife Aasiya's death.
Among the other details that came out in his last day of testimony, Hassan said that in the days before Aasiya was beheaded, she pulled a knife on him and accused him of cheating on her.
Hassan then spoke about the altercation at the couple's Bridges TV studio, saying "you know what happened you have seen the pictures." He then said that it didn't feel as though he was doing the beheading, that God gave him the extra courage to do it. Other than that, he didn't get into many details about the actual attack. It is something the prosecution is forcing him to get into on its cross-examination.
Hassan said he called his parents on the way to the Orchard Park police station to tell them what happened. When he arrived at the station, Hassan says officers had a hard time believing that he did it. He said he felt "safe" once he was in police custody.
It took Hassan four days to wrap up his testimony, as he started out describing his relationship with Aasiya, whom he described as being emotionally and physically abusive.
On the second day of Hassan's testimony, Judge Franczyk told Hassan to pick up the pace, "please let's not parcel this out to such length that we're here until spring."
- Hassan Trial Reporter's Notebooks
- Mo Hassan Holding Center Interview
- Courtroom Images from Wednesday (2/2)