Another Islamic honor killing and another case of honor killing denial.
A jury deliberated only 35 minutes Friday before convicting a 47-year-old former Dearborn man of murdering his 20-year-old stepdaughter last year in Warren.
Rahim Alfetlawi faces life in prison without parole after the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and two other offenses in the April 30, 2011, shooting death of Jessica Mokdad in Mokdad’s grandmother’s home on Tallman Street.
The verdict followed a more than weeklong trial in front of Judge David Viviano in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 15.
Mokdad’s mother, Wendy Wasinski, said the verdict brings relief for her and justice for Jessica.
“It (the trial) was very hard for me to watch but I had to do it because I needed closure,” she said. “I’m ready to move on with my life.”
Alfetlawi showed no emotion upon hearing the verdict. As he was escorted from the courtroom, he turned and smiled wide at Wasinski, a move she called “creepy.”
“I don’t know if he was smiling because he was saying, ‘I still did it,’ ” she said, or, “It was another way to taunt me.”
As Mokdad matured and tried to gain independence, Alfetlawi became obsessive and controlling over her. His behavior progressed to homicide when he learned that Mokdad told her mother the day before her death that Alfetlawi had raped her about two years before.
“That’s what put him over the edge,” assistant Macomb prosecutor William Cataldo said.
Wasinki, who was born in Hamtramck and lived in Warren, married Alfetlawi in 1998 shortly after she converted to Islam, when Mokdad was 7.
The family lived in Dearborn and moved to Coon Rapids, Minn., in 2005.
Cataldo said the deliberations were the shortest he has seen in a murder case in years.
The jury easily disregarded Alfetlawi’s claim he accidentally shot her in a struggle over the gun, three jurors said. “There’s no way it happened the way he said it did,” one juror said.
Jurors said Mokdad’s body position and bullet trajectory contradicted Alfetlawi’s claim that Mokdad discovered the gun during an embrace and tried to take it from him.
Mokdad was found on her back with her feet facing forward partially underneath a bed. Cataldo said Mokdad had just placed a box on the bed, and Alfetlawi shot her from 3 feet away.
Jurors noted that the bullet went straight, not on an angle if Alfetlawi’s version was true.
“We figured it was premeditated from the time he left (Minnesota),” a juror said. “I think he was on a mission.”
Mokdad got married at 17, and the couple lived off-and-on with Wasinski and Alfetlawi in Minnesota as well as with relatives in Michigan. The marriage began falling apart in the months before her death.
On March 26, 2011, Alfetlawi abducted and forced Mokdad to return to Minnesota. She remained there for about eight days, during which constant monitoring continued.
Her mother helped her flee a second time April 4, 2011, by driving her to a train station while Alfetlawi slept.
When Alfetlawi learned Mokdad revealed the rape, he decided to kill her and anyone with her, Cataldo said. He drove the 12 hours from Minnesota, first stopping at the Grand Blanc home of Mokdad’s father and, finding no one, located Mokdad and her grandmother, Diane Fauer, in metro-Detroit.
He helped Mokdad and Fauer gather belongings of her recently deceased great-grandmother and transport them in separate vehicles. Mokdad and Alfetlawi arrived first at the grandmother’s home.
Mokdad died instantly.
Alfetlawi immediately turned himself in to police. Mokdad’s body was found by Fauer.
The mother just wants to move on.
As the media covers up the reality, here’s what is no longer being reported, Michigan: Honor Killing, Step-Daughter Murdered for not following I...:
WARREN, Mich. (WJBK) – Jessica Mokedad’s friends and family told us that for the first time in her life, she was finally happy. She had friends and freedom, but her stepfather is accused of taking that all away.
He forced her to wear a traditional head scarf instead of allowing her to make that decision on her own, and when she stopped wearing a scarf, friends say he became furious.
“She just wants to express herself the way she wants and not what he wants,” said friend Kayla Chuba.
That’s why her friends helped her escape.
“She packed up all her stuff. She told me she put it in a bush. She acted like she was taking out the garbage so he wouldn’t see all her stuff packed,” Chuba said.
Jessica left Minnesota and moved to Michigan, but despite the hundreds of miles between them, friends say he tracked her every move.
Like previous Islamic honor killers in the U.S., Rahim Alfetlawi is a U.S. citizen from Iraq.