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The trial of Muzzammil Hassan

BUFFALO -- The murder trial of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan is underway in Erie County Court.

Hassan, 46, is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing and beheading death of his wife, Aasiya Zubair Hassan.

6 p.m.: A video and audio feed of the trial's opening statements was allowed in the courtroom by Judge Thomas P. Franczyk.

Listen to prosecutor Paul Bonanno's opening statement: 

Listen to defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz's opening statement:

5:15 p.m.: The trial has adjourned for the day. Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz told reporters outside the courtroom that there were "no surprises" during the first day of the trial.

5:09 p.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz, during his cross examination of forensic pathologist Mark LeVaughn, focused on whether LeVaughn could know with certainty whether Aasiya Hassan was conscious or not when she was beheaded.

"I think the majority of this injury timeframe was taken up by the actual beheading," LeVaughn said.

"But again, that's only possible, you don't know that for sure?' Schwartz asked. 

"Well, yes, that's possible, that's my opinion," LeVaughn replied.  

Schwartz also focused on whether LeVaughn could know for certain whether the wounds were caused by someone standing in front or behind Aasiya Hassan and whether he could determine which stab wound caused her death.

Schwartz also asked LeVaughn whether he noticed dark circles under the eyes of Aasiya Hassan.

LeVaughn said he did not note that in his autopsy report. 

4:52 p.m.: Dr. Mark LeVaughn, a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on the body of Aasiya Hassan, testified that she could have been conscious when the beheading started.

He based that opinion, he told Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable, on the fact that prosecutors have said the entire attack took about 47 seconds.

"That's pretty fast," LeVaughn said. "And in my opinion, I believe that she could have been conscious at the time of the initiation of the beheading."

Aasiya Hassan's body had more than 60 wounds on it, LeVaughn said.

4:23 p.m.: Hassan has sat quietly throughout the proceedings, occasionally speaking with his attorneys.

He has shown little reaction during the detailed -- and sometimes gruesome -- descriptions of the stab wounds on Aasiya Hassan's body.

Mark LeVaughn, a forensic pathologist, testified that there were dozens of stab wounds on her body, including "multiple jagged-edge cut wounds."

4 p.m.: Dr. Mark LeVaughn, a forensic pathologist, is now testifying that he performed an autopsy on the body of Aasiya Hassan on Feb. 13.

LeVaughn said his initial observation was that she was "beheaded and had multiple stab wounds."

He noted that Aasiya Hassan's camisole underneath her clothes had multiple cuts and appeared soaked in blood. Other clothes, including a Gap sweatshirt and a purple jacket, were also covered in blood and had cut marks.

LeVaughn is now meticulously describing at length the size and depth of the wounds found on Aasiya Hassan's body. During the description, Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable has shown an up-close photograph of Aasiya Hassan's body to the jurors.

3:30 p.m.:Prosecutor Paul Bonanno has shown the jurors two hunting knives found at the scene that appear to have remnants of red stains on them.

Both knives, Mazur said, were kept in a secure location and later sent for DNA analysis at the lab.

Mazur has also unfolded a blue, button-down shirt collected from the garbage can that also has remnants of red stains on it.

Schwartz did not ask any questions of Mazur under cross examination.

3:02 p.m.: Paul Mazur, assistant laboratory director of the Erie County Central Police Services forensic lab, testified that he went to the Bridges television studio and office with detectives from Orchard Park at about 10 p.m. Feb. 12.

Mazur told Prosecutor Paul Bonanno that he collected items from the scene, including two knives and a shirt. The knives, he said, were found in a "washtub-type basin sink" in a bathroom. The shirt was found in a garbage can.

One of the knives, Mazur said, had what appeared to be hair on it and a red stain. Mazur said the shirt had "blood spatter" on the front. 

2:50 p.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz has cross-examined Lt. Joseph Buccilli. He focused on the fact that Hassan cooperated with police and even found the key to the Bridges television station for detectives. 

"In fact, he obeyed all of your commands, correct?" Schwartz asked.

"Yes," Buccilli said.

2:46 p.m.: Lt. Joseph Buccilli testified that three of Hassan's children, ages 17, 6 and 4, were waiting in a minivan outside the building when detectives arrived. They were taken to the Orchard Park police station. 

Buccilli, who said he took Hassan to an interrogation room at the police station, described Hassan has "cool, calm and collected" as he interacted with police after the death.

2:32 p.m.: Lt. Joseph Buccilli testified that he went to the Thorn Avenue Bridges television offices.

After entering the dark building, Buccilli said, he and other detectives found Aasiya Hassan's decapitated body about 10 to 12 feet inside the hallway.

Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable is now showing jurors photographs of the detectives arriving at the station taken from security video from inside and outside of the building. Some of the photographs included images of Aasiya Hassan's body.

2:15 p.m. The trial has resumed. Prosecutors have called Orchard Park Police Lt. Joseph Buccilli to the stand.

Buccilli testified that when Hassan came to the police station on Feb. 12 he had a "red blotch" on his pant's pocket and his hands and forearms "appeared to have a reddish tint to them."

Buccilli said Hassan told him "She's gone. There's no doubt about it."

One witness testified before the break. Denise Scutt, dispatcher for Orchard Park Police, testified that Hassan came into the station about 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 and asked to speak privately with an officer.

1:10 p.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz told reporters during the break that the judge excused three people who were serving as jurors or alternate jurors during the weekend for personal reasons. There is now one alternate and 12 jurors. 

1 p.m.: The trial has taken a break for lunch.

12:30 p.m.: Defense attorney Schwartz has ended his opening remarks. The judge has given the jurors a six-minute break.

During the opening statements, Hassan, wearing a dark suit and a red tie, sat quietly at the table next to one of his attorneys.

12:27 p.m.: Defense attorney Schwartz said prosecutors would not be able to prove that Hassan was not justified in his actions given what had happened.

"They will not be able to tell you that his fear was unreasonable beyond a reasonable doubt," Schwartz said.

"There are only two people that know for sure what happened in this relationship," Schwartz said. "Only two people know for sure what happened in the Bridge's TV station that evening."

Was the killing, Schwartz asked the jurors to consider, "reasonable given what he knew about her and what had happened earlier?"

12:23 p.m.:  Defense attorney Schwartz said Hassan bought the knives from Walmart out of fear for his life.

He said Hassan was "unleashing emotions from almost a decade" and that he was in "fear of what was going on."

"When it was over, Mo was in shock," Schwartz said. "He never tried to escape. He never tried to get away with it."

12:19 p.m.: Defense attorney Schwartz said Aasiya "threatened to kill Mo Hassan."

"She threatened to poison him," Schwartz said. "She threatened him at knife point on more than one occasion."

Schwartz said it was Hassan who sought professional help and help from friends to work out their marriage.

"This is a man who's been divorced twice before and there was no sign of this ever happening," Schwartz said. 

12:10 p.m.: Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz started his opening remarks with the statement: "Mo Hassan killed his wife, but he is not guilty of murder in the second degree."

He said the marriage of Aasiya and Mo Hassan was a "sad, unhealthy relationship" and that "it ended with Mo Hassan in fear of his life."

"There are two sides to this story," Schwartz said.

12:05 p.m.: Prosecutor Bonanno told jurors they will see video from the Bridges television station that shows Hassan entering the building.

"You will be able to see it was dark and that there were only two people in the hallway," Bonanno said.

He said they will also hear DNA evidence that shows the "defendant literally had Aasiya's blood on his hands."

11:59 a.m.: Prosecutor Bonanno told jurors that Hassan bought two hunting knives at Walmart in Hamburg the day of Aasiya Hassan's death.

Bonanno plans to present video from the store during the trial.

"His purchase was recorded on the store video," Bonanno said. "You will see the video. You will see the defendant carefully examining the knives, testing their sharpness on a cardboard box and then calmly and deliberately buying them."

11:55 a.m.: Prosecutor Paul E. Bonanno told jurors that Hassan's children, Michael and Sonia, will testify that Hassan subjected Aasiya Hassan to abuse during their marriage.

11:53 a.m.: Bonanno said Hassan met her inside the television station with two hunting knives he had bought an hour earlier.

"Before Aasiya could even turn on a light, before Aasiya could have even known he was there, he attacked her from behind," Bonanno said.

Bonanno, during the opening statement, told jurors that the "motive is clear."

"The defendant viciously killed Aasiya and desecrated her body because six days earlier, she had dared to seek a divorce," Bonanno said. 

11:50 a.m.: Prosecutor Paul E. Bonanno has started his opening statement with the stark details of the final moments of Aasiya Hassan's life. 

She was driving, he said, to the Bridges television station with clean clothes to drop off for Hassan. She left her children waiting in the minivan outside, Bonanno said. 

"It was the last time the children saw her alive," Bonanno said. 

11:39 a.m.: Franczyk has advised the jurors that the courtroom proceedings will differ greatly from courtroom television dramas.

"That's show biz, that's drama, but that's not evidence," Franczyk told the jurors during lengthy instructions.

He has also asked the jurors not to discuss the case with others, including friends and family, and has asked them not to discuss the case with each other before he gives them the "green light."

He also instructed jurors not to visit or to go to any location discussed in the testimony or to look them up on Google Maps or other satellite software. He has advised them to avoid any press accounts of the case.

"I promise you that everything that you need to decide this case, in terms of fact and law, will be provided to you in the courtroom," Franczyk said.

11:30 a.m.: There are two flat-screen televisions in the courtroom. Franczyk has told the jurors that exhibits could include photographs, diagrams, documents and videos.  

11:26 a.m.: Franczyk is instructing the jurors and has questioned them if they have been exposed to any press accounts of the trial since they were sworn in. No juror responded that he or she had. The judge has also advised the jurors not to take notes during the trial.

11:25 a.m.: The jurors are entering the courtroom. 

10:50 a.m.: The judge is now instructing jurors outside the courtroom, which is expected to take about 15 minutes.

10:45 a.m.: Franczyk has ruled that a video camera will be allowed in the courtroom during opening statements despite opposition by the District Attorney's Office.

Franczyk said he allowed the camera because the defense had given "unequivocal consent" to recording the opening statements. Franczyk has also allowed members of the press to transmit text messages and use laptops from inside the courtroom.  

He has reserved judgement on whether he will allow cameras in the courtroom for the verdict.

10:30 a.m. The Erie County Court room is packed with members of the press, law students and other spectators.

No members of Hassan's immediate family appear to be in the courtroom.

Hassan has been jailed since Feb. 2009, when he turned himself into police. 

The body of his wife, Aasiya, 37, was found stabbed and beheaded in their Orchard Park television studio. 

Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk swore in the last six members of the 12-member jury on Friday. The jury includes eight men and four women. There are also four alternates.

See The News' complete coverage of the Hassan case here.

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