Mo Hassan in court on 1/18/2011
Photo: Buffalo News/ Derek Gee
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Day one of the Mo Hassan murder trial is done. The case resumes Wednesday at 10am.
Mo Hassan is accused of beheading his wife Aasiya back in 2009 in the studio of the Muslim TV station they owned and operated in Orchard Park.
Day one finished with testimony from Erie County Pathologist Mark LeVaughn.
The jury in the Mo Hassan murder trial just viewed some of graphic evidence in the case. Photos of blood-stained clothes; jeans, jacket and under shirt. They also saw full pictures of Aasiya's body before the autopsy.
The prosecution is taking the jury through where Aasiya was stabbed on her body. The pathologist, Mark LeVaughn from Erie County, says Aasiya was stabbed all over her back, neck and shoulders, in addition to the decapitation. "Every bit of tissue in the neck and all the structures were cut," says LeVaughn in court Tuesday.
LeVaughn says Aasiya Hassan was stabbed at least 10 times; in addition to being decapitated. Jury also sees and extremely graphic pictures of where the decapitation occurred. The picture shows her back covered in stab wounds, The prosecution leaves the picture up for only 30 seconds.
LeVaughn further testifies that cut to Aasiya's left hand means she "was conscious of an oncoming assault and likely put her hand up in front of a sharp object to shield herself."
Pathologist says wound on Aasiya started at her chin and ran back towards her ear. He says the assailant was behind her. He also says Aasiya had at least 60 wounds on her body, beyond the decapitation. He does not know if she was conscious or not at that time.
Earlier Paul Mazur from the Central Police Service crime lab took the stand around 3pm and told of blood- soaked knives found in the sink of the rear bathroom at Bridges TV. A blood-soaked shirt was also found in a garbage can. Photos of the evidence was shown to the jury.
After the photos were shown, the actual knives and shirt were shown to the court and put into evidence.
Orchard Park Police Lt. Joseph Buccilli was among the first witnesses to be called by the prosecution. Buccilli said that Hassan told him he came to the Orchard Park Police station to turn himself in. He told Buccilli that he had killed his wife, saying " She's gone, there's no doubt." Buccilli said that the three Hassan children were also found outside the studio waiting in a minivan outside. They were brought back to the Orchard Park police station.
The trial against the Orchard Park man accused of beheading his wife started Tuesday morning in Erie County court and the jury was warned about graphic content that will be presented.
Before the trial started on Tuesday, three jurors were excused and replaced with alternates. This leaves just one alternate juror left for a case that is expected to last three to four weeks. If fewer than 12 jurors are left, a mistrial will be declared.
The judge allowed a camera inside the court for opening statements, and will allow one again for closing arguments.
The Prosecution painted Mo Hassan as a controlling husband who's actions and threats led his wife to obtain an order of protection. They said he lured his wife to the Bridges Television station they owned by asking her to drop off laundry, according to the statement he told her he would not be there.
Prosecutors say Aasiya showed up to the TV station to drop the clothes off, the couple's three children waited in the car. That would be the last time they would see their mother alive.
"While Michael, Daniel and Ranya waited inside the minivan in the parking lot, their father crept up behind Aasiya in the dark office. He was holding two hunting knives he had just bought an hour earlier.
Before Aasiya even could turn on a light, before she could've even known he was there, he attacked her from behind. He stabbed Aasiya in the back, in the head, in the chest and in the hands. Altogether more than 40 times. And then he took those hunting knives and he sawed Aasiya's head off," says prosecutor Paul E. Bonanno.
They say Hassan used so much force, that cut marks were made in the floor. The whole attack took 47 seconds.
The defense then laid out its case, saying that Mo Hassan was an abused husband, who was subjected to verbal abuse and threats of physical violence. Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz said that Aasiya Hassan had threatened to kill her husband by poisoning. He says that on the day of the fatal attack, Aasiya threatened him with a knife. He said that Mo Hassan feared for his life and when he met his wife at the tv studio later that day, he thought she had a knife and snapped.
The camera was removed after 12:30 Monday afternoon when the first witness was called. That first witness was Orchard Park Police dispatcher Denise Scutt, who was the first person who Mo Hassan spoke with after going to the police station to turn himself in. She spoke of Mr. Hassan's demeanor and what he had in his pockets when he was taken into custody. (Chapstick and both US and Canadian currency).
Earlier on Tuesday morning, the jury was warned that they will see surveillance video of the attack and hear graphic testimony.
It took five days to select the jury. In the end, eight men and four women were chosen, along with four alternates.
On Tuesday, the judge told the jury not to discuss the case until deliberations.
Click on the video link above to see Marissa Bailey's report on Day 1 of the trial.