Birdsong Allocution Case 2 For Class 9/5/08


 Chaudhry Rashid is awaiting sentencing after he was convicted by a jury of Second Degree Murder in the so called “honor killing” of his daughter Sandeela Kanwal.

At trial the following evidence was revealed:

Rashid is a 56 year old, legal immigrant from Pakistan who has been living in the United States ten years with his wife and four children who ranged in age from 12 to twenty five.  He is a Muslim.  He owns and operates a small minimart and gas station.

Rashid strangled his daughter Sandeela with a bungee cord on July 6, after he learned that she had filed divorce papers and was having an extramarital affair. Sandeela, who had worked at a Wal Mart, wanted to escape her loveless six year marriage to Majid Latif, a man chosen for her by her parents.  Rashid went on his murderous rage after apparently growing tired of numerous arguments with his daughter, concerned that their clashing cultural values would reflect poorly on him and his family.

At the time of his arrest, shortly after the killing, police found Rashid sitting in his driveway smoking a cigarette.  After being taken to the police station Rashid confessed to police, “I strangled my daughter.  It was a matter of family honor.  God will protect me.  God is watching.”

At trial Rashid did not take the witness stand.  However, the defense produced Hanny Lightfoot-Klien as an expert witness.  The witness testified that he had lived in Africa and the Middle East and had written several books on honor killings and genital mutilation in the Muslim world. He further testified that “when Pakistanis come to the U.S. they do not leave their customs behind with them.  If any woman in their family in any way does something that dishonors the family, the whole family is dishonored, they are the laughingstock of the whole community, because they don’t know how to control their women. And, the only way this blight on their honor can be eradicated is to kill the one who has committed the crime.”

The evidence also revealed that honor killings are seldom prosecuted in the Muslim world.

The jury  of seven women and five men deliberated for three hours before rendering their verdict. They found Rashid not guilty of First Degree Murder, but guilty of the lesser included charge of Second Degree Murder.  A conviction of First Degree Murder would have made Rashid eligible for the death penalty.

Rashid may be sentenced to prison from 20 years to life.  He must serve 20 years before he would be eligible for parole. The death penalty does not apply to Second Degree Murder.

 We will use this case to learn how to allocute

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