BUFFALO -- The prosecution rested its case Wednesday in the murder trial of of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan in Erie County Court. The defense is supposed to begin to present its case this morning.
Hassan, 46, is accused of stabbing and beheading his wife, Aasiya Zubair Hassan, at an Orchard Park television station on Feb. 12, 2009.
Judge Thomas P. Franczyk has allowed Hassan to represent himself.
The News will follow developments in today's court proceedings below:
5:17 p.m.: Speaking to reporters after the court proceedings ended, Hassan's legal advisor, Jeremy Schwartz, said people will be able to more clearly see the connection between Hassan's testimony and the defense he is presenting as he gets further along in his testimony.
He said it is important for people to understand the state of Hassan's relationship with Aasiya, and this is what Hassan is trying to do in his testimony. He did say Hassan raised the fact that he was hospitalized for depression because "it does go to his state of mind."
Schwartz declined to comment on whether Hassan will present any other witnesses and he would not go into detail about what else Hassan plans to present during his remaining time on the stand.
5:04 p.m.: After the jury left the courtroom, prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable was able to serve Hassan and his legal advisor, Jeremy Schwartz, with motions to quash the subpoenas issued earlier today to Curtin Gable and Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III. Hassan wants Curtin Gable and Sedita to testify at his trial.
Curtin Gable is arguing that no officer of the court signed the subpoenas. Franczyk then asked Hassan why he wants Sedita and Curtin Gable to testify.
Hassan, after consulting with Schwartz, agreed to withdraw the subpoenas.
Dr. Ana Natasha Cervantes, a forensic psychologist, today faxed a letter to Franczyk saying that the subpoena issued to her is invalid for several reasons, including the fact that she has no desire to testify in Hassan's case. Hassan asked Franczyk to be able to reply to Cervantes' letter Friday, and Franczyk agreed.
A lawyer from the firm of Hiscock & Barclay, Karim A. Abdulla, representing a Buffalo News staff reporter who has covered the trial, Sandra Tan, also responded to the subpoena issued by Hassan to Tan. Abdulla also noted that the subpoena was not issued by an officer of the court, because Hassan is not an attorney, and therefore is invalid. Abdulla also wrote that he objects to the subpoena on its merits.
In response, Hassan said he would withdraw the subpoena issued to Tan and would not seek to compel her to testify, and he agreed to do the same with several judges who had received subpoenas, including Franczyk.
4:51 p.m.:: Franczyk called an end to Hassan's testimony at 4:45 p.m.
Hassan had been explaining why he was accused of sexual harassment by the couple's babysitter, who saw him in a towel coming out of the shower into his bedroom when she was unexpectedly there to pick up their youngest children.
"It's like, what am I doing wrong?" Hassan said, adding that Aasiya insisted he buy a bathrobe following the incident.
Hassan's testimony will resume at 10 a.m. Friday.
4:40 p.m.: In a frequent refrain from today's testimony, Hassan attempted to introduce another e-mail he sent to Aasiya.
Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable objected again and, once again, the judge sustained the objection. He said unless Hassan calls as a witness an employee of AOL, who could testify to the e-mail's authenticity, he won't allow it to be introduced as evidence.
"You can testify to the facts, as I've told you a couple of times. And you can use the documents to refresh your memory," Franczyk said.
Hassan said Aasiya threatened to make the police report she filed against him public, hurting his reputation and perhaps threatening Bridges TV's finances if the network's backers are put off by the accusations.
Hassan said Aasiya claimed she was being treated as a slave, and Hassan's mistreatment of her was the root cause of her outbursts. She also claimed that Hassan was still in love with one of his ex-wives.
Patricia Evans, the author of the book favored by Hassan, "Verbally Abusive Relationships," who had agreed to work with the couple, directed the couple to draft marital agreements that both Aasiya and Hassan could sign.
Aasiya refused to sign, so the couple never approved nor abided by the agreements. Hassan is trying to get one of the documents introduced into evidence, the prosecutors objected and Franczyk agreed because it was not signed by Hassan or Aasiya.
4:26 p.m.: Hassan again is trying to portray himself as the flexible spouse, the one who tried to make the marriage work and tried to make Aasiya happy.
Recalling a conversation from September 2006, he said he told her that he deserved credit for not demanding that she prepare meals, or clean the house. And he reminded her that he offered to hire a maid to do housework and she could stay home with the children if she wanted to do that instead of working outside the home.
"Your happiness is more important to me than the money," Hassan said.
He said he slept on the bed in the basement for the entire month of September 2006, because he wanted to keep his distance from Aasiya.
He said she made attempts to get him to move out of the basement. He said he could forgive her, that wasn't the problem, but he wanted her abusive behavior to stop.
He said he worried that her abusive behavior would be repeated in the behavior of their children, when they are older, because he learned through Alcoholics Anonymous and his counseling that abuse is generational. Curtin Gable objected to Hassan's statement and the judge sustained her objection.
4:18 p.m.: Hassan's testimony is frequently interrupted by objections from prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable, huddled conversations between Hassan and his legal advisor, Jeremy Schwartz and pauses as Hassan reads from documents that he isn't allowed to enter into evidence.
Hassan now is referring to medical reports, entered into evidence, from doctors and nurses who treated Aasiya and found evidence that she had been physically abused. Hassan is trying to show that the findings of abuse in the reports are flawed.
Hassan said that any black eyes Aasiya suffered are really black circles that she, Hassan and others from his part of the world have under their eyes. When he attempted to refer to evidence that he would introduce tomorrow to back up this contention, Curtin Gable objected and the judge told Hassan he doesn't need to provide a "teaser" to tomorrow's testimony.
Hassan later testified that between January 2001, when Aasiya first came to the United States, and the Sept. 2, 2006, police report, Aasiya never accused Hassan of abusing her.
4:07 p.m.: Hassan testified that in September 2006, Aasiya filed her first police report against Hassan, saying that he had punched her in the face, giving her a black eye, and had dragged her across their driveway in separate incidents the previous month. Hassan denied the allegations in the police report, but the driveway incident was witnessed by Jennifer Greer who has already testified to what she saw that day.
Hassan tried to explain away the driveway incident. Hassan said he was worried that Aasiya would leave him, taking the children, while he was on a business trip to Chicago, he testified. So he said he took the passports of their two youngest children with him, and he said she went after him in a fury, as he left the house, trying to prevent him from leaving and take back the passports. This is what Greer saw happening in the driveway that day in August 2006, Hassan testified.
3:58 p.m.: Hassan began testifying to events that took place in August 2006 around 2:20 p.m. and he stayed in this month until 3:55, when he finally made reference to an e-mail sent on Sept. 1 --- a reference to an e-mail that, naturally, raised an objection from prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable.
3:55 p.m.: Hassan once again unsuccessfully tried to raise his claim that Aasiya killed one of her brothers.
Hassan said he learned from Aasiya that Aasiya killed her older brother. Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable objected on several grounds to Hassan's attempt to address this in his testimony, and Franczyk in response cleared the jury from the room to address this line of testimony out of their earshot.
The alleged incident happened in May 1983, when Aasiya would have been around 11. Aasiya was very close to this brother, who was 11 months older. Aasiya was more of a tomboy, while this brother was softer. Hassan said the two were outside skating when they got into a fight and she pushed him onto the road, where he got hit by an incoming car, and he hit the pavement and died.
Because of this, Aasiya's mother beat her and refused to talk to her for the next six or seven years, Aasiya told Hassan, he recalled today. Hassan said he tried to reasure Aasiya that she hadn't killed her brother, that it wasn't her fault.
Curtin Gable said prosecutors talked to Aasiya's family and they confirmed this was not true and Aasiya never killed a brother. The Buffalo News also contacted Aasiya's sister in South Africa and she informed the paper that this was not true and that Aasiya has one brother who is still alive.
Hassan said the reassurance from the family, as presented by Curtin Gable, was hearsay, drawing a laugh from the audience because he had so often been on the losing end of a "hearsay" objection.
Franczyk said he didn't believe the testimony was relevant and he believes it would be inflammatory for the jury and he won't allow it to be presented by Hassan.
3:39 p.m.: The testimony at times today has seemed repetitive, as Hassan again and again refers to his purported attempts to rebuild his strained marriage, the couple's frequent arguments and his claims of abuse he suffered at Aasiya's hands.
He said eventually he reached the point where he couldn't have a conversation with Aasiya because he couldn't get his message across to her. This is when he began to write notes to her, begging her not to hurt his feelings, not to make one-sided decisions and not to make selfish demands anymore. He said these decisions and demands make him feel attacked, demeaned and devalued.
Hassan said he also gave Aasiya four articles to read. They addressed people who make selfish instead of respectful demands, who subject their loved ones to outbursts and who make unilateral decisions, among other points. In addition to the four articles, he suggested three books for Aasiya to read.
Hassan also testified that he asked Patricia Evans, the author of "Verbally Abusive Relationships," to intervene in hopes of helping their marriage. Evans requested a one-page statement from Aasiya and Hassan explaining what each person's problems with the relationship were.
Hassan was allowed to testify that Aasiya wanted Hassan to spend more time with him outside of their work for Bridges TV, to be more attentive and romantic and to help more around the house and with the children.
3:28 p.m.: Hassan has spent more than an hour testifying to events and conversations that he said took place in just one month, August 2006. He said he told Aasiya late that month that the couple should devote more time to rebuilding their relationship.
He told the court there is a word, "zidh," in their language that means essentially "selfish demands." Hassan said that in their conversations, now that they were talking again, he would chide Aasiya about her "zidhs," and he said he begged her to help him try to repair the marriage and to set aside her recently resurrected demands to visit Pakistan again.
3:21 p.m.: Hassan continues to testify about his deteriorating marriage and his efforts to save it while running into prosecutorial objections whenever he tries to reveal what someone else has told him.
He said he told Aasiya she won't be able to change until she takes responsibility for her abusive behavior.
In later summer 2006, at one point, Aasiya stopped talking to Hassan on the advice of her lawyer, and she said future interactions would have to go through her lawyer.
Hassan said he told her that her treatment of him and her refusal to communicate directly with him "was killing me."
He said he continued to try to give her examples of her abusive behavior, examples that she denied to him, such as when he claims she picked up a bottle of prescription medication and threw it across their room.
Hassan said he contacted the author of "Verbally Abusive Relationships," telling her that he was in just such an abusive relationship and asking for any advice she had. He said the author called him back, but when Hassan attempted to testify to what she told him, prosecutors again objected and the judge again sustained the objection and struck his statement from the record.
3:14 p.m.: Court has resumed following a five minute recess.
Lawyers, law students and notable elected officials have been stopping by the court to watch parts of the Hassan trial. State Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Drury has listened to some of Hassan's testimony this afternoon.
3:02 p.m.: Hassan is still on the stand and his testimony continues to try to portray him as the victim of an abusive relationship. He said that he repeatedly tried to convince his late wife not to use inflammatory words against him, to disagree with him reasonably and to do a better job of trying to understand where he's coming from.
Any time there was any argument, Aasiya had to win, Hassan said. "There was always a win-lose," he said.
He said he talked to her about developing an attitude that would allow them to make decisions that lead to both of them winning.
He also said he shared with Aasiya an article on angry outbursts, people who have explosive tempers, and another article about people who make unilateral instead of joint decisions. Hassan testified that Aasiya never included him in her decision-making.
He said at one point he told her she had married "a broken man," one who has fears and vulnerabilities that she uses against him, and her personal attacks were breaking him down.
2:51 p.m.: Hassan has begun to testify in more detail to the abuse he claims he suffered at the hands of his late wife.
He said Aasiya would push him, grab him, slap him and grab his hair, and he testified he didn't go a single week from this time until the end of their marriage where he wasn't physically assaulted by Aasiya.
"Granted, I'm bigger and a guy, so I can walk away … but it just leaves you shaking in terms of what's going on," Hassan said.
He tried to testify that Aasiya apologized in an e-mail the day after one of their blow-ups, but prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable again objected to his reference to an e-mail that hasn't been entered into evidence.
Stymied, again, Hassan simply said that Aasiya apologized to him the next day, using her nickname for him, "King Kong."
2:43 p.m.: Hassan now is trying to introduce into evidence his travel itineraries for various trips that, he contends, show that he was out of town on certain dates when allegations were made that he was abusive to his wife.
In response to another objection from prosecutors, Franczyk said Hassan cannot testify to the authenticity of the Travelocity documents because he does not work for Travelocity, so he cannot introduce the documents as evidence but he can refer to them to refresh his memory.
Whenever Hassan refers to an e-mail, prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable objects and legal advisor Jeremy Schwartz tries to guide Hassan away from potentially objectionable testimony.
Hassan said he told Aasiya that her "threat" to walk away from the marriage, with their children, and return to Pakistan will "destroy a lot of lives."
"Every time she would play that card, I would cave in," Hassan testified, arguing that he felt controlled and not loved.
2:36 p.m.: Hassan has been stymied in his efforts to introduce into evidence, or read from, e-mails he said had been sent between himself and Aasiya. Each time he tries to read from an e-mail, prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable has objected and Franczyk has sustained her objection. Hassan has paused for five or 10 seconds at a time at some points before continuing his testimony. He frequently huddles with Jeremy Schwartz, his legal advisor who sits next to Hassan at the witness stand, before speaking.
Even though Aasiya had an earlier abortion, according to Hassan, when she became pregnant another time she did not want to have another abortion. Hassan said he did not want another child, but Aasiya was insistent in changing her mind. She called him more names, and inflicted him to more "attacks," and said he could just pay for child support to provide for the new baby, according to Hassan's testimony.
"I'm a flexible person, but it was just pound, pound, pound, pound," Hassan said, adding that he felt he had no control over his life.
2:28 p.m.: Hassan continued detailing the escalating disagreements he said he had with Aasiya, and the judge agreed with prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable that Hassan's purported e-mail conversations with Aasiya have not been authenticated.
Hassan told jurors that, beginning in 2006, he bought a bed and put it in the basement and said he slept down there at least 20 different times in the years to come, as well as another 20 times when he spent time at extended-stay hotels.
He said Aasiya became pregnant in 2006 and, that August, because she was starting the MBA program and didn't want to have another child, she decided "on her own" to have an abortion, according to Hassan.
Hassan said he began saving e-mails between himself and Aasiya around this time, and he told the jury that the e-mails would back up what he testifying about.
Hassan began reading from an e-mail dated Aug. 5, 2006. This email was marked for evidence, but not entered into evidence, so Curtin Gable objected to Hassan's reading of the e-mail.
Shown the e-mail, Curtin Gable said she objected to the introduction of the e-mail for several reasons, first that she had no way of knowing whether this e-mail is authentic.
Franczyk said he would not allow Hassan to read from a document that is not in evidence because the e-mail, and presumably others Hassan wishes to introduce, were not authenticated by an employee from his Internet provider. Franczyk said Hassan would be able to talk about conversations he had with Aasiya, and to refer to the e-mails, without reading them, to refresh his memory.
2:18 p.m.: Finally, she agreed to seek counseling, Hassan said as he continued his testimony. He continues to speak to the jury in a narrative, conversational form with no questions from Jeremy Schwartz, his legal advisor, or anyone else.
He said the couple made up at this point, and he moved back home from the hotel. Then, she changed her mind and said she didn't want to go back to counseling.
"I felt slighted," Hassan said, but he was already back home and didn't decide to move out again.
Aasiya did not like the snow and the cold weather here. She said she would prefer to move to Dallas, and felt in addition to the better weather that she would have better job prospects there.
She said, 'There were no cranes in Buffalo,'" Hassan recalled.
Hassan said this was a source of arguments because Hassan didn't want to have to move his oldest children out of Western New York and their schools.
He said both of the children wanted to stay in Western New York, and he told this to Aasiya. He said she "exploded" at this news, and complained about being stuck "in this horrible place" for about three minutes non-stop.
Hassan said Aasiya consistently complained that he and the children were holding her back.
Bridges TV had 25 employees at this point and Hassan said he didn't want to leave them high and dry with a move to Dallas.
Hassan said Aasiya's arguments escalated to hitting Hassan, slamming doors as well as the continued yelling at him and calling him names.
2:10 p.m.: The audience of spectators in the courtroom is slightly smaller for the afternoon session. There continues to be a relatively heavy presence of court officers who sit behind and to the side of Hassan as he sits at the stand.
Hassan is resuming his testimony. He said in 2005 he continued talking to Aasiya about changing her behavior and trying to emphasize to her how much he was hurt by her words and her temper. He also again unsuccessfully sought to convince her to seek counseling.
"It felt as if I was hitting a thick stone wall. I couldn't get heard at all," Hassan said.
In March or April 2006, for the first time, he said he moved out of the house to the Clarion Hotel, within a mile or two of their Hamburg home.
12:53 p.m.: Jeremy Schwartz, formerly Hassan's lawyer and now serving a more limited role as Hassan's legal advisor, told reporters after court broke for lunch that Hassan's testimony to his state of mind during his marriage to Aasiya is relevant to his defense.
He declined to say whether he had advised Hassan to take the stand in his own defense and he would not comment on where Hassan will be going with his testimony.
When asked whether Hassan would be able to produce a witness, Schwartz said, "We are speaking to witnesses now. The timing is difficult. I anticipate we may have witnesses tomorrow."
He said much of the 1,000 pieces of evidence that Hassan hopes to introduce are documents such as e-mails that may be presented this afternoon and that support Hassan's contentions in his testimony.
Another reporter asked whether Schwartz believed members of the jury would buy the idea that the marital arguments and disagreements he testified to could possibly justify killing Aasiya. Schwartz replied, "There are a lot of other things to come."
12:31 p.m.: Hassan has begun to use the term "abuse" to describe his treatment at the hands of Aasiya.
He said he read a book with the title, "Verbally Abusive Relationships," by Patrticia Evans, a book Hassan said he began to read. He said he found it enlightening and said it gave him validation.
He said up to that point most of the abuse he suffered was emotional, so it was hard for people to know he was a victim of abuse. He said it was hard for other people to see Aasiya's abuse of Hassan because most of what she said was said in their bedroom, behind closed doors.
The judge has sent the jury out of the courtroom and the trial has recessed for a lunch break and will resume at 2 p.m.
12:26 p.m.: Hassan is continuing his testimony. In 2005, on a trip to Dallas to see his family, Hassan said members of his family saw Aasiya's "explosive" temper. Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable objected when Hassan tried to talk about what his mother saw and said. Hassan said he didn't know what to do in response to Aasiya's temper and its effect on their marriage.
Hassan jumped back in time to talk about his children and his desire to have his two children from his first marriage and his two children with Aasiya to live together. November 2004, his two oldest children moved in with Hassan and Aasiya.
By this point he is working full time at Bridges TV. He said Aasiya had had a boat while living in Pakistan and she began to request that they buy one in America. Hassan said he didn't think this was wise because they were just starting the business and the oldest children soon would begin college. This prompted her to unfavorably compare their lifestyle in Western New York to her lifestyle in Pakistan.
He said she also had a gun in Pakistan, and when they would drive by a shooting range on Maple Road in Amherst she would bring up buying a gun. Hassan said he is not comfortable having a gun. He said the only time he had fired a gun was when he went through "FBI training," a statement that drew curious looks in among members of the courtroom audience. This might have been a reference to a civilian training program that the FBI offers.
At this point, Hassan said he suggested that Aasiya go through counseling to get a handle on her temper and her bouts of pouting. He said she angrily dismissed this suggestion.
12:15 p.m.: Hassan began his testimony this morning because he was not able to present any other witnesses at this time.
Today's second session began with the judge saying he would continue to bar audio-visual recording of the trial but he would allow still photography. This decision is limited to Hassan's testimony and photographers are barred from taking pictures of members of the jury.
The jury is not yet back in court but is being brought back into the room.
12:02 p.m.: "It's like if Aasiya felt hurt, she had to hurt you," Hassan said. He said she would call him a lot of "unkind names."
Hassan said another argument developed because she wanted to bring their children with her to Pakistan. He said he was concerned about their safety and didn't mind if she went alone. This prompted her to yell at him and try to belittle him, Hassan testified.
"You're nobody; you're nothing. You're just a sperm donor," Aasiya said to Hassan, according to Hassan.
The judge has called for a five-minute recess.
11:58 a.m.: Hassan again is trying to portray Aasiya as someone with a temper and very particular tastes who always insisted on getting her way. "When she goes off it's like machine gun bullets," Hassan testified.
In Buffalo, she always had to go to Kebab & Curry, a Pakistani restaurant. "We couldn't go to other restaurants," he said. In contrast, Hassan said he was the more laid-back person in the marriage and said he generally gave into Aasiya's demands.
However, he said he remained physically attracted to her and he said their working relationship was better. Hassan said he viewed Aasiya as an equal business partner and he praised her intelligence and business acumen.
The first time Aasiya mentioned divorce, Hassan said, followed an incident when Aasiya chastised her husband for not carrying up their suitcases while they were on a trip. He did not say what year this happened.
11:50 a.m.: Hassan said the couple continued to clash over her demand to travel to Pakistan every year, and her desire to work outside the home when he believed he made enough money that she could stay at home. He said she first became "physical" with him when he said he wouldn't buy her a horse to ride. He said he didn't think much of that at the time.
After she came back from a trip to Pakistan, she got pregnant and the demands for a horse went away. In another point of contention, Aasiya said she wanted their children to go to a private school, while Hassan wanted them to go to a public school. He said, in this case and others, when she would make a demand she would get emotionally attached to the demand.
He said the idea for a TV station devoted to Muslim interests, one that could build bridges between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, came when the couple heard anti-Muslim talk on the radio while they were in their car.
Hassan said they were able to raise $6 million or $7 million in seed capital for the network, and that's when he left his job at M&T Bank to focus full time on Bridges TV.
11:42 a.m.: Hassan appears to be trying to show the jury that Aasiya can be stubborn and insistent and can display flashes of a temper if she doesn't get her way.
Aasiya finally got a visa, so she was able to join Hassan in Western New York. She had worked as an architect, but Hassan said Aasiya didn't find any good work opportunities here in that field. So, she went to work for a 7-11.
Hassan said her family has a business background, and she expressed interest in running her own business or corporate franchise. They looked at several, including Tim Hortons, before deciding to operate a 7-11 franchise.
In 2001, Hassan said, Aasiya said she wanted to go back to Pakistan to see her family again. Hassan said financially this was difficult, following the wedding expenses they had. Hassan said she kept insisting she had to go.
On a visit to Toronto to see a friend, Hassan said, Aasiya got out of their car when it was stopped at a red light. Aasiya told him she wouldn't go to the friend's dinner until Hassan bought her a ticket to travel to Pakistan. Hassan said their argument on the street corner lasted half an hour before Hassan went back to his car and called his mother for guidance. Aasiya then got back into the car and went to the dinner, though she was in a foul mood that night. Eventually, Hassan relented and bought Aasiya a ticket to Pakistan.
11:33 a.m.: Hassan continues to speak casually and evenly as he gives his testimony to the jury. He is talking more about the beginning of his marriage to Aasiya.
He said he was grateful that Aasiya was accepting of his children from his first marriage. He described the process he went through to try to get a tourist visa for Aasiya so that the couple could travel to Canada at some point. He told the jury that she became very upset at him and abruptly left the Internet cafe where they were using a computer. He said this incident gave him the idea that she had difficulty verbalizing her feelings, especially if she is upset.
He said because this was her first marriage, and his third, he decided they would do whatever she wanted. They were spending the beginning of their honeymoon in the north of Pakistan. Hassan said he felt he was more at Aasiya's mercy and that she was making more of the decisions about what they did on the honeymoon and which hotels they used.
But he said he didn't mind too much because he brought more "baggage" to the marriage than she did. Aasiya said she wanted to be alone on the honeymoon with Hassan, and he said she didn't want to see his father or his children, which hurt him.
11:25 a.m.: Hassan is continuing his narrative testimony. He is not asking himself questions and Schwartz, his attorney who is serving more as a legal advisor, is not asking him questions or otherwise speaking.
Hassan said he took medication for depression, and began reading books on the causes of depression. After reading one book, and at the advice of a counselor he was seeing, he went to a 12-step program for alcoholics. He said he did this not because he was an alcoholic, or because alcohol had caused the break-up of his marriage, but because he wanted to gain some insights into the 12-step program and how it could help him.
At the same time, when Hassan was doing an internship at Eastman Kodak and his two children were attending Sunday School in Rochester, he entered into an arranged marriage. "In hindsight it was a bit silly," Hassan said, and he believed the marriage was not a good fit for him. It was also at this time that he left Rochester to take the job at M&T Bank. He said he got an order of protection because the family of his second wife was pressuring him. Curtin Gable objected to this statement. The judge sustained the objection. Hassan filed for divorce from his second wife in 1998.
In 2000 he met Aasiya, online. He said they developed an online courtship and by October 2000 he went to Pakistan to marry Aasiya.
11:13 a.m.: Franczyk is giving the jury instructions related to Hassan's testimony in the trial. He is instructing them not to draw any conclusions based on his decision to testify at trial, while he represents himself. Court officers have placed a second chair near the witness stand for Schwartz so that the attorney can advise the defendant.
Hassan has been sworn in. He is talking to the jury. He referred to the killing of Aasiya as the "tragedy" of Feb. 12. "It is a very complex story." He is speaking slowly and explaining that he has never run afoul of the law. Curtin Gable objected to this statement, and her objection was sustained. Hassan paused for a few seconds.
"I felt all I wanted to do was someone to hear my side of the story." He said his side of the story of the couple's 10-year marriage hasn't been heard. His testimony is beginning as a personal statement.
He gave the jury some background on his personal history. He is talking about his father, and his family, saying they lived in Pakistan for the first 15 years of his life. He said he went to a British school in Pakistan and said he was a good student but he wasn't good at sports such as cricket because he was on the heavy side.
He said he went to the University of Rochester on a scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. After his bachelor's degree, he went to work for Proctor & Gamble. After that company, he went back to school for his MBA from the University of Rochester, which he finished in 1996. Then he worked at M&T Bank, where he served as a vice president before leaving the bank in 2004 to work at Bridges TV full time.
On the personal level, in college, he met his first wife and soon got married, in 1984, when he was 20. They separated in 1994. They had two children, his oldest children, who both testified at the trial and are estranged from their father now.
The break-up was difficult for him and he said he was hospitalized at a mental institution in Connecticut for several weeks.
11 a.m.: Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable said she and District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III were served subpoenas at 9:55 a.m. directing them to appear in court Friday. She said they will be moving to quash the subpoenas.
Prosecutor Paul Bonanno asked for a list of all the evidence Hassan intends to introduce. Franczyk asked Hassan if he has such a list. Hassan said he has the materials, but not the list. Franczyk said such a list would be helpful to provide.
Prosecutors are asking for any discoverable material related to the witnesses Hassan intends to call. Hassan said he may not be able to provide it. The jury is now being called into the courtroom, one hour after the scheduled start of the trial.
10:43 a.m.: Franczyk is asking a court officer to explain the delay to members of the jury by informing them that court personnel are marking exhibits for use as evidence. The judge's law clerk is assisting the court clerk in this task.
Hassan is representing himself in the trial but he huddles with Schwartz frequently, seeking his advice or legal opinion on matters.
10:38 a.m.: Hassan now is asking about the logistics of his testimony. He has asked Franczyk whether his attorney, Jeremy Schwartz, will be able to sit or stand close to him while he is on the stand. The judge said Schwartz would be able to be near him while Hassan is on the stand.
"I am not going to let you question yourself on the stand. I think that's absurd," Franczyk said to Hassan.
Franczyk is warning Hassan not to testify to statements or evidence that is not admissible at trial. "You can testify to facts. You can testify to things you know through personal knowledge," the judge said. The judge added that evidence he plans to introduce during his testimony should be premarked as evidence, though Franczyk worries how much extra time this will take.
Hassan told Franczyk he may have as many as 1,000 items of evidence to mark, a statement that drew a gasp from members of the audience in the courtroom. Franczyk wondered what the jury would do in the interim.
"Your honor, I thought this is where the whole truth comes out," Hassan said.
The judge said a trial is not an effort to discover some abstract truth. It is held to see whether the prosecution can prove its case, and then it is up to members of the jury to decide the defendant's guilt or innocence. Franczyk, the prosecutor and the defense, along with court personnel, continue to discuss how the trial will proceed.
10:28 a.m.: Hassan's attorney and Hassan are discussing housekeeping issues and admissible evidence with Franczyk. The jury is not yet in the courtroom, and Franczyk has just admonished Hassan for making jurors wait this long outside the courtroom.
"I don't know anything about the legal process. Sorry, your honor," Hassan said.
10:24 a.m.: The trial of Hassan has started. A line of about 30 members of the public waited outside the courtroom to grab one of the coveted seats for the high-profile trial. Only 10 were allowed into court.
Read News Staff Reporter Sandra Tan's account of Wednesday's court proceedings in "I have not done anything to hurt you since Sunday, since I saw my mistake."
See The News' entire coverage of the Hassan case at the Mo Hassan topics page.
--Stephen T. Watson