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The trial of Muzzammil Hassan: Day 8

BUFFALO -- The murder trial of of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan continued today in Erie County Court.

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.

Check out the day-long review from inside the courtroom:

5:40 p.m.: Listen to Hassan's legal adviser Jeremy Schwartz speak with reporters after this morning's session:

Schwartz also spoke with reporters at the end of the day. Here's that exchange:

***

5:32 p.m.: Prominent defense attorney Paul Cambria, who was in court observing the trial this morning, spoke with reporters during the lunch break.

Here's the entire exchange:

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5:04 p.m.: Before he left the courtroom, the judge asked Mo Hassan to streamline the presentation of his narrative testimony next week.

Hassan said he expects to finish his own testimony at the end of Tuesday.

***

4:50 p.m.: Prosecutors say there's no specific date alleged for bedroom trashing, so San Diego itinerary proves nothing.

Judge closes proceedings. Jury allowed to leave.

Court will resume Monday afternoon. Jury to report at 1:50 p.m.

Judge says he expects to have case in jury's hands sometime next week, and expects to know better on Monday.

*** 

4:48 p.m.: Mo Hassan says he was traveling to San Diego on the day when Aasiya told Orchard Park police he trashed their bedroom.

Judge reviewing Hassan's documentation.

***

4:33 p.m.: The defendant is reading from a Dallas police report in which Aasiya said Mo Hassan sat on her, resulting in bruises to an arm and calf.

At this point, an order of protection was in place from March 26, 2007, Hassan said.

***

4:26 p.m.: Mo Hassan is describing a family trip to Dallas to visit members of his family.

He said Aasiya exploded at him when he said she couldn't use his GPS because he was going on a father-son road trip to Houston.

"I got kicked in the groin," he said. "She was like completely out of control."

***

4:16 p.m.: Mo Hassan tells the jury the agreement he and Aasiya signed "was out the door in two days."

***

4:09 p.m.: Mo Hassan is talking about one of Aasiya's medical reports in which she complained about tingling around the eyes.

The report, which he read in part, notes Aasiya "has had a lot of issues with her husband beating her."

***

 

4:04 p.m.: Mo Hassan told the jury Aasiya agreed to go to counseling in June 2007.

He had her sign a written agreement, which also said the couple would make decisions together and agree to not swear, use the middle finger, no sleeping in the other room, and no blocking emails or texts, among other conditions.

"I was very hopeful that out of this document that things would happen," he said.

***

4 p.m.: When discussion of the boat incident is over, prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable asks if the issue is over and if she can remove the photo from the projector on the prosecution's table.

***

3:59 p.m.: Mo Hassan is describing an incident in which 16 members of the family took boat rides and a boat Aasiya was driving, she "just exploded" in anger, he said.

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3:47 p.m.: The judge tells Mo Hassan to keep in mind what he is saying and what it has to do with the events of Feb. 12, 2009, as he gives his "frame-by-frame recitation of every little thing."

"Hit the highlights," Franczyk told Hassan.

***

3:41 p.m.: Mo Hassan brings up one of Aasiya's doctor's reports from April 2007 which references a piece of glass protruding from her skin, which he says was from an earlier car accident.

The judge asks what the point is of Hassan bringing up the report.

"The point is that I didn't cause any of this," Hassan responded.

Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable replied: "No one's claiming you did."

"OK, thank you," Hassan said.

***

3:38 p.m.: Mo Hassan and Aasiya took their two younger children on a roadtrip in the spring of 2007.

He asked that Aasiya not bring up Pakistan on the trip, and Aasiya asked that he not talk about his hurt and pain.

If either of them brought up those subjects, they agreed to put $50 into one of their children's college fund each time one of the banned subjects was referenced.

***

3:35 p.m.: Mo Hassan said he learned from Internet searches how to set boundaries for conversations with his wife, Aasiya.

Those boundaries were necessary in order for communication to occur, he said.

***

3:29 p.m.: Mo Hassan is talking about what he says is Aasiya's continued attempts to get the passports for their two youngest children.

***

3:20 p.m.: Jury invited back.

The judge announces yet another response to a subpoena, this time for someone at a consulting or couseling business. The person subpoenaed, Fran Pfohl, no longer works there, Franczyk said.

Earlier this afternoon, the judge announced Suzanne Tomkins, a UB law professor, who was subpoenaed. She has told the court the subpoena was not signed by a court officer and she was not willing to testify for the defense, the judge said.

***

3:16 p.m.: The judge is back. The jury is still out. Mo Hassan is sitting quietly on the witness stand.

***

3:11 p.m.: Judge announces seven-minute break. Jury leaves courtroom.

***

3:07 p.m.: Mo Hassan has described a physical confrontation that happened between him and his son, Michael, on March 4, 2007.

Mo testified he tried to sit down with his daughter, Sonia. He suggested they go to counseling, but she refused. She threw his sleep apnea machine down the stairs, he told the jury.

He said his daughter than walked passed him, nudging him on the side, he said.

He nudged his daughter on the side, and then his son Michael punched him in the nose, Hassan testified.

After that, he punched his son, and the was a scuffle. Aasiya got a bloody nose in the incident, from an elbow by either Michael or Mo, according to Mo Hassan's description.

"For me, this was like the low point for me," Hassan said. "I felt absolutely horrible that I should not even strike Michael back."

The police had been called as the incident wrapped up in the early morning hours of March 5.

***

2:59 p.m.: After the private detective "episode," he agreed to go into counseling with his wife, Mo Hassan testified.

"I felt if I don't go, I feared what else she would do, and it's better to smooth, keep things [trailed off]," he said.

*** 

2:55 p.m.: Mo Hassan told the jury he came back from a business trip and went into hiding at a local hotel in January 2007.

While he was on the trip, Aasiya sent him an email saying she was leaving with the kids.

He didn't tell anyone his whereabouts when he got back to Buffalo, but Aasiya hired a private detective who tracked him down by his credit card transactions.

***

2:46 p.m.: Mo Hassan said his wife's therapist called him to ask him to participate in counseling, but Hassan declined.

"I felt it was like Aasiya and [the counselor] ganging up on me for the passports again," Hassan testified.

***

2:45 p.m.: Upon returning from a business trip to Chicago in early 2007, Mo Hassan said he found his oldest son, Michael, to be cold in demeanor.

It seemed to him that the only way to get his son to talk was to let Aasiya go to Pakistan, Hassan said.

***

2:38 p.m.: Mo Hassan said he felt validated when, as he claims, an Orchard Park police officer told him it was his right to keep the passports.

***

2:34 p.m.: Mo Hassan said he threw his younger children's passports over Niagara Falls before the trip they were going on with their mother, Aasiya, to Pakistan.

This was on Dec. 30, 2006. Aasiya called the police when Mo Hassan took a drive in their van. Her purse was in the van, and it contained the three passports.

Mo Hassan said he left Aasiya's passport at her office at Bridges TV.

On his drive, Mo Hassan said he ended up in Rochester and spent the New Year's holiday there.

***

2:24 p.m.: Mo Hassan said he presented a list of seven things he asked Aasiya to stop doing to him.

During a meeting with her in a Buffalo hotel, she agreed to stop and said she wanted him to give her their children's passports, Hassan testified.

Aasiya also threatened to get a protection order in her attempts to get the passports, he said.

He agreed to give her passports, and he got her to agree to enter counseling.

***

2:21 p.m.: Mo Hassan said police did not take him seriously when they were called to his home on Dec. 18, 2006, after 2:30 a.m.

This was the first and last time he tried to tell his side of the story to the police, he said.

***

2:17 p.m.: Mo Hassan has resumed his narrative testimony, first referring to an account he started earlier today about the argument in Toronto.

***

2:15 p.m.: The judge has granted a request for permission for a sketch artist to come into court.

Noting that other sketch artists have attended already in the trial, the judge said "some of whom are less forgiving than others."

In other business, Mo Hassan has agreed to withdraw a subpoena for WGRZ reporter Claudine Ewing.

The jury is being brought back into the courtroom.

***

 

2:07 p.m.: Defendant Mo Hassan is still not present. Attorneys on both sides are at the bench talking with the judge.

The jury has not been brought in.

1:58 p.m.: The courtroom has been opened. Several people had been turned away because seats reserved for the public have been filled.

***

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12:45 p.m.: Judge releases jury for lunch. Trial will resume at 2 p.m. with Mo Hassan still on the stand.

***

12:38 p.m.: Mo Hassan testified he tried to get his wife to watch "Good Will Hunting" with him, because it involved issues related to counseling. Hassan said Aasiya got very mad at that.

***

12:27 p.m.: Mo Hassan said he contacted Aasiya's family in Pakistan to ask for their help trying to get Aasiya into counseling.

Aasiya would threaten a divorce, and that would scare the living daylights out of him, he said.

***

12:24 p.m.: Mo Hassan testified he never spoke up and complained about the abuse he received before Sept. 1, 2006.

"But when I started speaking up that I would like to see some changes made things actually got worse," he said.

***

12:20 p.m.: Mo Hassan said he had been living in the basement of his home, and around Thanksgiving had grown to like the solitude.

12:19 p.m.: Mo Hassan described an incident in which he and Aasiya got locked inside a bathroom in their home. They were trying to get out, and the babysitter called police reporting a loud argument and a banging noise, Hassan said.

This happened on Oct. 16, 2006, he said.

***

12:12 p.m.: The Toronto incident involved an argument in which Aasiya was pushing to travel with the children to Pakistan, Mo Hassan said.

The judge a recess is planned for 12:45 p.m.

12:04 p.m.: Mo Hassan is telling the jury about incidents in which he says he suffered abuse by Aasiya, including a trip to Toronto to visit his relatives.

***

11:48 a.m.: Mo Hassan, who has been going through emails exchanged during his courtship with Aasiya as notes during his testimony, said he is done looking through emails from the year 2000.

***

11:39 a.m.: Mo Hassan said Aasiya told him she was abused by her parents and a previous boyfriend.

The jury was instructed not to consider the alleged truthfulness of what Aasiya may have said, only what Mo Hassan said was his reaction to it.

***

11:37 a.m.: Jury comes back into court.

***

11:35 a.m.: Mo Hassan wants to talk about conversations with Aasiya regarding a previous relationship she had before they were married.

Prosecutors object, and the jury is momentarily excused.

Mo Hassan said he learned of a pattern of violence in Aasiya's life through this communication.

He said he learned about incidents in which she was the victim and others in which she committed the violence.

***

11:26 a.m.: Mo Hassan said he mistook Aasiya's "neediness" for love during their courtship. It may have been because he was coming off a divorce and it was good for his ego.

***

11:22 a.m.: Mo Hassan is talking about how he met Aasiya online on a dating site. This was when he lived in the area and she lived in Pakistan.

Mo Hassan said Aasiya would try to call him everyday, but he wanted to limit the phone conversations to the weekends when his international phone rates would decrease.

***

11:18 a.m.: Mo Hassan has referred to a doctor's report which noted Aasiya Hassan fell three times within a couple months, twice on the stairs and once on a deck, which was slippery because of rainfall.

In one of the falls, Aasiya Hassan broke her tailbone.

***

11:15 a.m.: Mo Hassan is talking about Aasiya's medical records and relating them to an accusation in divorce papers she filed that he pushed her down the stairs while she was pregnant.

He said the divorce papers was the first time he came to understand there was this specific allegation.

Mo Hassan told the jury their house was built in 1950 and had narrow stairs that were just carpeted at the time of one of the falls. He said he had fallen himself, as well.

***

11:12 a.m.: Prominent local defense attorney Paul Cambria has been sitting in the courtroom observing the trial this morning.

***

11:02 a.m.: Mo Hassan has taken a seat on the witness stand, with his legal advisor Jeremy Schwartz sitting next to him.

Three court security officers are standing behind Hassan, with another in front of the jury box.

The jury's been called back in.

***

10:57 a.m.: The jury has been momentarily excused from the courtroom.

The judge said he understands Mo Hassan's need to tell his story, but asks that he not tell his story "in real time."

He risks "stupifying" the jurors, and noted that through his work in advertising, Hassan should know the importance of a succinct message.

Mo Hassan asked the judge if he wants him to speed things up.

"Not talk fast, but be selective and to the point," the judge responded.

***

10:54 a.m.: Under cross examination, Amy Kiss said she only saw the Hassans together twice from 2006 until the date of the killing.

During that time, approximately four-and-a-half hours, Kiss said she didn't see any bruises on Aasiya Hassan.

Cross examination is over, and Kiss has left the stand.

***

10:49 a.m.: Mo Hassan is asking Amy Kiss about how she saw interactions between himself and Aasiya.

Kiss said she interacted with the couple on several occasions.

Mo Hassan also asked specifically about an occasion when she was invited to the Hassans' home in November 2008.

Kiss said she didn't notice anything "abnormal."

"I didn't think anything when I was at your home or when I left," she said. "I just thought it was a normal day, a normal interaction with everyone. Normal conversation."

***

10:42 a.m.: When asked about Mo Hassan's reputation for peacefulness in business school, here's Kiss' response:

"I didn't know of violence. I knew you as a person who attended class, semi-socially, friendly, very studious, went about your own business, in that context."

***

10:39 a.m.: Amy Kiss said she moved back to Buffalo at the start of December.

She said she is unaware of Mo Hassan's reputation in Buffalo. She said she could speak to his reputation around the time of 1994 when they were in school together.

Kiss said she was not aware of any reputation of violence at that time.

The prosecution had objected to Kiss' testimony since it was many years ago, but the judge allowed it, noting it was remote.

***

10:32 a.m.: Amy Kiss has taken the stand.

Mo Hassan said she is from Buffalo and comes back to the area around holidays.

***

10:29 a.m.: Judge Franczyk rules Mo Hassan can call this woman as a witness.

He also calls for the jury to be brought in.

***

10:28 a.m.: Mo Hassan says the female witness he wants to call would testify towards his character.

He said he has known her for 18 years, and has interacted with both him and Aasiya Hassan.

This woman went to business school with Mo Hassan in Rochester.

***

10:20 a.m.: The debate over expert witnesses continues.

Mo Hassan told the judge his legal advisor Jeremy Schwartz has called numerous doctors, looking for someone to testify on his behalf.

Hassan said he believes the doctors read the negative online media coverage of the case and "then they go away."

***

10:14 a.m.: The court has received communications from Catholic Charities and a law firm regarding subpoenas, Franczyk said. Catholic Charities has argued its subpoena does not follow criminal procedure law, and the law firm says the attorney subpoenaed has moved to Colorado.

There's more discussion about Mo Hassan's desire to have a former doctor who treated him be called as an expert witness. The doctor wrote a letter dated yesterday that she is not willing and not able to testify as an expert witness for him.

Mo Hassan says a lot of negative media coverage has affected the people he's been able to call as witnesses.

The jury has yet to be brought into the courtroom.

***

10:10 a.m.: Mo Hassan is looking to enter emails he said he wrote from his Yahoo account, but hasn't returned a form authenticating that it's his account to Yahoo. He said he found the form in a folder this morning.

Hassan said a letter from Yahoo came around the time he was switching attorneys, and asked Judge Franczyk for a little leniency in the matter.

"I'm trying to be as understanding as humanly possible," Franczyk said.

***

9:58 a.m.: Mo Hassan has been brought into court, and is conferring with his advisor, Jeremy Schwartz.

Prosecutors have wheeled in a cart holding boxes of files.

***

9:44 a.m.: Judge Franczyk is handling a few other cases before the Hassan trial starts for the day.

Jeremy Schwartz, Hassan's legal advisor, just told reporters a female witness will be called to the stand before Mo Hassan resumes his testimony today.

***

Here's the live blog from Thursday's proceedings by Staff Reporter Stephen T. Watson, which saw the start of Mo Hassan's own testimony from the witness stand.

Here's Staff Reporter Sandra Tan's full story from yesterday's proceedings. Here's a photo gallery from Mo Hassan's testimony yesterday.

Check out The News' topics page for everything about the Hassan case.

--Aaron Besecker

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