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Mo Hassan Trial Firsthand Accounts by WGRZ Reporters

8:55 AM, Jan 20, 2011   |    comments
  • hassan; trial; sketch
  • Mo Hassan in court on 1/18/2011
    
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - Two on Your Side's Pete Gallivan and Marissa Bailey were in Erie County court for day two of the Mo Hassan trial.

Cameras are not allowed inside but updates were posted as events unfolded.

Mo Hassan Trial Reporters Notebook: 

4:37pm: Court is letting out for today -- will resume tomorrow morning at 9:45.

NO COURT FRIDAY.... JUDGE HAS A HEARING HE HAS TO TAKE CARE OF... LONG WEEKEND FOR JURORS.

Witness tomorrow is likely to be AH's physician assistant.

4:30pm: Mo Hassan has 3 yellow legal pads that he's taking notes on. Wearing a greenish-yellow suit. Greer's voice quivering throughout her testimony. Babysitter mostly interacted mostly with AH -- didn't deal with MO often.  Says she was close to the younger kids ... fairly close to Michael and Sonia as well.

Greer says AH talked with her about Mo. Says Michael and Sonia never directly expressed issues with parents to her. Says Mo never got out of his car during ride to the airport. 

Prosecution is now redirecting questions - defense is done.

Babysitter off the stand. Attorneys are meeting with judge.

4:15pm: Oct. 2007: Planned to drive AH to the airport. Went to house to pick up AH but when she got there AH claimed the flight was cancelled but she still wanted to go to NYC; had booked another flight.

Got the kids ready quickly while the defendant was taking a shower. They packed up and left before Mo was out of the shower. After Greer, AH and the kids left the house, Mo got into his car and followed them down the road. Greer started driving to the airport. Greer says Mo was behind her -- weaving in and out of traffic approaching her car quickly.

When Mo came up, he swerved into babysitter's car to scare her... didn't actually hit the car. Babysitter threw on brakes, stopped in the driving lane and shoulder, afraid that Mo was going to hit her car with his. AH was in the passenger seat, kids were in the back in car seats. Babysitter said Mo parked in front of her car in the middle of the road and stared at them through his rearview mirror, as traffic piled up behind them. Greer says she heard screeching tires as traffic started to back up. Greer says she was very, very scared. Mo eventually left but AH didn't want to go to the airport, so they went to Target as AH didn't want to go someplace where Mo could find her.

After this incident, Greer watched kids at her parents house. Stopped working for Hassans that following year.

Defense starts cross exam of babysitter.

4:02pm: Sonia off stand. People call Jennifer Greer... lives in Buffalo now, currently goes to Buffalo State College, worked for Hassan family as babysitter. Prosecution questioning her. Babysitter worked all hours including overnights. Says she spent a good amount of time at the house. Claims she saw Mo use force against AH.

Said she was playing outside with the kids in August 2006 when she saw Mo and AH came out the side door. They came outside... they proceeded down the sidewalk toward the driveway. Couldn't make out what was being said... but said AH was trying to get to her car -- she was trying to get away. Mo snatched keys out of AH's hand. Every time she moved, Mo got in her way. "I took the kids inside the house. I thought it was inappropriate for them to witness a fight." Heard AH screaming from the driveway... Mo had AH by the head and hair and was dragging her across the driveway. Jennifer starts to cry as she describes this...

Mo was holding AH under the arms with his hands gripping her hair. Mo was dragging her across the driveway... she was screaming for help. "Mo dragged her behind my car so that people from the street couldn't see what was happening." Sat on her stomach with all his body weight. AH was screaming she needed help and tried to get up... AH screamed for Greer to call police. Took the kids and left. Called police before she left. Hassan kids stayed with Jennifer at her house because AH was sick after the incident.

3:50pm: Sonia says she's been in counseling throughout her entire school career. Sonia referring to her Dad as "Mo". Says she was in Texas and saw a picture of bruises on AH's arm. Schwartz asking Sonia about physical altercations in the past and if she remembers AH with a bloody nose and bruises. Says she didn't hear specifics of verbal arguments but that they were common in her household. It was not uncommon for Mo to say "i'm sorry" and not mean it... at one point he hit her in the face and Sonia witnessed him saying "I'm sorry but you deserved it".

Sonia says Mo wanted to talk about his feelings with her regarding their relationship. Sonia: "his main worry was that I didn't respect him up to his standards".

Defense is done cross examining -- prosecution now redirecting questions.

3:29pm: Hassan back in... judge and jury back in...

Schwartz brings up the agreement agreed upon between Mo and AH.  Sonia says she wasn't around when agreement was signed. Schwartz asked if Sonia was aware if AH hired a private investigator... she says no.

 

3:10pm: Sonia says Mo has sent "lots of letters" to her. In one letter he stated that he would release all of his cars, finances and wealth if she agreed not to speak ill of him to anyone and agreed to visit.

5 minute recess. Next up: cross exam of Sonia.

3:02pm: Sonia says after Aasiya filed for divorce, at one point they hid from the defendant in Target because they didn't want to encounter him in the store. Later when they arrived home, they saw Mo Hassan's car pull into the driveway, she and her siblings and Aasiya ran into the house and called police. Aasiya and Michael locked all the doors. Sonia says she heard Mo banging on the front door and yelling as he moved around the outside of the house. Eventually police arrived and sonia says she observed Mo being taken into custody. 

Sonia says the mood in their house was a lot lighter and freer "It was just happier" after Aasiya filed for divorce and Mo was out of the house.

Says she received a call from Michael the day Aasiya was killed. Sonia says the message he left said Aasiya went in and their dad is there and then said "oh my God the cops are here" then hung up. When he called back from the police station, Sonia says she knew something was wrong and feared Aasiya was dead.

Sonia says they stayed with a family friend after Aasiya was killed.

2:55pm: A  few months before Aasiya died, she gave Sonia a bag of documents to hold onto to keep others from finding them. Included in that bag was a memo of understanding between Mo and Aasiya outlining their relationship. It stated that Aasiya agrees not to call police,court, cps in relation to our relationship, and agree not to threaten Any of the above.

It also said that Aasiya would lose time visiting her family in Pakistan and time with her children if she violated the terms of the MOU.

Sonia says Aasiya discussed filing for divorce with her, asked if she would rather live with her or her father.

Sonia welled up again when she said she told her she wanted to live with Aasiya because she "loved her and loved her younger siblings."

2:39pm: Sonia is now talking about an argument between Mo and Aasiya during a family trip to Texas in 2007. Sonia testified that Aasiya had bruises on her arm after the altercation; the prosecution entered pictures into evidence that illustrate those bruises. 

 

Incident in April of 2008, Sonia says she was home, there was an argument upstairs between Mo and Aasiya. At one point she heard a very loud crash and scream. Sonia, began to break down as she described how Aasiya was covered in blood. "She came down and she was bleeding from her nose, it was everywhere."

Sonia says Mo was hovering over her saying I'm sorry, but at the same time, saying she deserved it. Sonia says she wanted to take her to the hospital, but Mo would not let her go. Sonia says that the defendant was forceful and demanding while Aasiya was trying to stop the bleeding. Sonia says that the defendant told Aasiya "I'm sorry, but you deserved it, you shouldn't have said that."

Says she never saw Aasiya initiate an argument, never physically attack the defendent or threaten physical harm to the defendant.

2:30pm: Sonia is now talking about the altercation from 2007. She says it began with an argument between her and Mo about respect. She says her father lectured her about how she should act toward him.

Sonia says she was going up the stairs and brushed by Mo, and he slapped her on the back. that is when, she says, her brother Michael began fighting with Mo, when Aasiya jumped in, Sonia says, Mo said to Aasiya "You turned them against me" and punched her in the face.

Sonia, who was already on the phone with police said "oh my God, he just punched her (aasiya) in the face!" After the incident, Sonia says they gathered their belongings and went to stay at a hotel for the night.

2:16pm: Next witness: Sonya Hassan, 20, UB student, says that Aasiya Hassan was an architecture student in Karachi, Pakistan. Parents separated when she was 4 and a haf, divorced when she was 6. Sonia says that Mo and Aasiya met through an internet dating service and were married in 2000 in Pakistan, then moved to Orchard Park. 

Just as Michael testified, Sonia says the relationship between her and Aasiya was distant at first. They referred to her as "Aasiya Auntie" at first then called her mother. She says they had typical teen-parent arguments over things like cleaning and chores. She says that the kids always had a distant relationship with their father "we never had much of a relationship with our father." Sonia says their relationship went from bad to worse.  Sonia says it was clear there were issues and tension between Mo and Aasiya. 

2:14pm: Franczyk denies motion.

2:08pm: Hassan has requested permission to cross examine certain witnesses. He would like the right to cross examine his daughter Sonya and/or babysitter if and when they are called. Judge Franczyk asks why. Hassan spoke for the first time in court. Hassan says with the amount of detail in this case, he believes he has more intimate personal knowledge of events and it would be more effective cross examination. Curtain says this defendant has no right to "hybrid representation" To suddenly today ask to cross examine his daughter and baby sitter it has no basis and the prosecution strongly objects.

2:02pm: Awaiting the jury.

2:00pm: Court back in session now.

 

12:35pm:

Break for lunch until 2pm.

 

12:33pm: Defense Attorney Schwartz laying out a scenario that Michael was much closer with Aasiya than with his father- "is it fair to say you spent particularly more time with Aasiya than with your father?" Answer: "Yes."  Schwartz wraps cross examination, breaking for lunch until 2pm

12:26pm:  The defense cross examination seems to be focusing on whether Michael actually saw Mo hit Aasiya during any of the incidents raised by the prosecution, or had any knowledge of who started or what the arguments were about.

12:22pm:  Schwartz cross examination now focussing on the March 2007 fight. Michael admits that Sonya and Mo were fighting already when Michael got involved.  Michael admits that he never actually saw Mo hit Aasiya, just the injury that resulted.

12:10pm: Cross-examination begins with "you don't like your father very much do you?"  Michael respond "No." Shwartz says "you didn't get along with Aasiya initially? She had her own rules right?"  Michael says initially there was some friction.

11:55 am:  He then relented and opened the door and Mo handed him a bank envelope with some cash.  Michael was immediately nervous, he opened the door, and tried to get into the building, but the doors were locked.  "I started to look into the windows to see what was going on, but it was too dark."  He tried calling Assiya's cell phone. It was in the van. He then called his sister and mother to try to get Assiya's other cell number but was unsuccessful.    At that point police arrived. The kids were then put in the squad car. He got ahold of sonya and says "he was freaking out" He says when the police went in and turned the lights on, he saw a stain on a wall that hadn't been there..."I assumed at that point Assiya had been killed"   Michael and his siblings were told at the Orchard Park PD that their step mother /mother had been killed.  Aasiya's family moved from Pakistan, the kids stayed with them temporarily.  Michael now lives in PA, his step-siblings moved back to Pakistan.  Michael says that Mo has written him a few letters but he has not responded "I don't want to have anything to do with him"

11:49am: I saw my father come out of the office, I was extremely nervous and very alert, I was scared" Mo looked into the van, Michael stared down because he didn't want to make eye contact. Michael's voice is now growing weaker and wavering...} Michael continues that a short time later Mo Hassan came back to the van and knocked on the door...he refused to open it initially.

11:48am: Jury listening intently. Aasiya enters the dark office, Michael and the kids wait in minivan. Aasiya did not come out.
Michael heard a very loud, high pitched noise, assuming it was a car screeching in the parking lot.

11:47am: As they pulled into the parking lot, the Bridges TV station looked deserted, not many cars in the parking lot and the office was dark. Aasiya parked near the door, Mo's car was no where in sight. At this point Michael's voice appears to be wavering a bit.

11:46am: Next few days were calm in the house, until February 12th, 2009. They had the day off from school, he and his little brother and little sister went to supercuts and then were going to Denny's, but Aasiya said she needed to drop off a bag of clothes to his father. Michael says he was nervous, and was told they would be dropping it off at theoffice and mo Hassan would not be there.

11:40am: Michael says he was nervous on the day the divorce papers would be filed. He says he received two text messages from his father, which he didn't return. After school he and his sister saw someone following them, they went into the house and locked all the doors and windows thinking their father would try to get in.

Michael says Mo was soon outside their house yelling, then tried to break down a door, then punched through a window pane and tried to unlock the door, but was not able to get in. Michael says he was scared for himself and his family. They called police, mo hassan was then cuffed and placed in a patrol car.

11:28am: Michael was just 13 when this fight occurred, 5-9 and 130 pounds. He still has a scar on his nose. He, Aasiya, Sonya and teh two younger children left and stayed in a hotel... Aasiya had a black eye after the fight.

11:24am: Michael says he hit him, and they exchanged punches. He says he suffered a bruised eye and cut on his nose. Sonya called the police as Assiya tried to break them up and Mo hit her in the face. Michael then tackled him. Assiya fell back after she was hit by Mo. Michael used a wrestling maneuver to pin him. Michael says Mo then pointed at everyone in the house and blamed everyone else for the fight.

11:20am: Few indidents - March 2007, Aasiya and Mo had an argument, Michael says Mo hit his sister Sonya, Michael then jumped at him and yelled at him "I'll F-ing kill you!"

11:18am: Michael says Aasiya also did all the housekeeping at home. Questioning now switches to relationship questions between Michael and Aasiya. He says there was a little bit of tension at first, but they grew closer as the years went by.
He says he initially called her Assiya Auntie, then later called her umma, meaning mother.

11:16am: Michael and Sonya moved in with Mo and Aasiya and their two children. Testifies that Aasiya worked in a 7-11 in O.P. everyday, in addition to Bridges TV.

11:14am: Michael is very calm and matter of fact. He is discussing Hassan's marriages. Michael says Mo was upset when Michael's mother and stepfather decided to move to pennsylvania. He lectured the kids that moving would hurt them educationally, and emotionally. Michael ultimately decided not to move after Mo brought a court proceeding. Michael moved in with Mo in 2004.

11:10am: Next prosecution witness, Michael Hassan, son of Mo.
Hassan is 19 and lives in Pennsylvania. He is a sophomore at UB in computer science. Hassan is the biological son of Mo from a previous marriage with Janice Holler. They divorced when he was 6 or 7. He and his sister Sonya grew up in Rochester with his mother.

11:06am: There is now a 5 minute recess as they go to get the next witness, but as Officer Rizzo was testifying, the prosecution showed still pictures of the crime scene on two monitors, one by the jury box, the other across the courtroom. The jury remained without emotion as teh pictures were shown.

10:55am: Shwartz cross examination. Defense asks Rizzo about the February 6th call, asks if Mr. Hassan was cooperative, the answer is yes. Rizzo says they found no evidence of a crime.
Now asks about Feb 12th. Shwartz asks if lights were turned on before or after the body was discovered? Rizzo responds "before"

10:49am: Rizzo testifies that the doors were locked at Bridges tv, the lights were out. After a key arrived, detectives entered the business, along with officer Rizzo.
Rizzo says when he walked in he saw the victim's body on the floor. "A female body, on her back, with the head lying 3 to 4 feet away on the floor."

10:43am: Rizzo also working February 12th, told by Lt. Buccilli that Hassan had just come in and admitted to killing his wife.
Says after getting detectives, he responded to the Bridges tv studio... When he arrived he saw Aasiya's minivan with the kids inside.

10:40am: 2nd witness Joseph Rizzo. O.P. police officer.
Attorney Curtain Gable asks about Feb 6th 2009. He responded to a domestic call at the hassan home. First officer on the scene, testifies that he saw Mr. Hassan walking from an upper porch to the driveway. Rizzo says Hassan's hands were bleeding and his shirt and pants appeared to be blood stained. Ordered to stop and get on the ground, placed him in handcuffs. found no weapons.

10:38am: Rizzo says Aasiya Hassan was inside. One pane of glass on entry door broken. Rizzo says there did not appear to be any crime committed. No arrests. However he did serve Mo Hassan with an order of protection.

10:31am: Dunning says Hassan looked over the papers and had no reaction. Defense cross, He was not angry? Answer - No.

10:30am: People call first witness, Thomas Dunning. Dunning is a legal administrator with Hogan Willis. He served divorce papers to mo hassan at Bridges tv.

10:00am: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz addressed the media before court. He said there was nothing that surprised him yesterday. He said he's unsure what witnesses will be called today again saying the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

As to the justified homicide defense versus the mental health defense... he said that the two lines can dovetail each other, with mental anguish can lead to enough mental distress to justify a killing.

He said now it looks like the trial may wrap up in about two weeks.

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