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The trial of Muzzammil Hassan: Day 10

BUFFALO -- Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan wrapped up his lengthy narrative today of the events leading to his wife's February 2009 death.

Hassan, 46, is accused of stabbing and beheading his wife, Aasiya Zubair Hassan, at an Orchard Park television station on Feb. 12, 2009. Hassan turned himself in to Orchard Park police on the night of the death.

Erie County Court Judge Thomas P. Franczyk has allowed Hassan to represent himself.

Review today's events, including Hassan's description of the moments after he killed his wife, below:

5:35 p.m.: Listen to Hassan's legal advisor, Jeremy Schwartz, speak to reporters outside the courtroom this evening:


4:30 p.m.: Franczyk has ended the proceedings for the day. The trial is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Franczyk told the jurors they should contact the court in the morning in the case of a snow storm tonight.


4:26 p.m.: The jury has left the courtroom, and Hassan has stepped down from the witness stand. 

Franczyk ruled that he will allow Hassan to call his two oldest children, Sonia and Michael, back to the witness stand. The judge warned Hassan that he would not allow him to "intimidate, to brow beat" or "to cajole" them on the stand.  


4:22 p.m.: Hassan broke down in tears on the witness stand for the first time as he described the moment when he was driving to the police station after killing his wife.

Hassan, sobbing, testified he was "just talking to God to let someone hear my side and what had happened to me."

Hassan said he was worried that his children would also become like Aasiya Hassan.

"I don't blame Aasiya for becoming like that. I would tell her so many times that it's not your fault the way that you are," Hassan recalled thinking. "That it's treatable."

Hassan ended his direct narrative of the events in tears, telling the jury: "I just wanted someone to hear my side … and after that, whatever you decide is acceptable to me."


4:18 p.m.: Hassan told the jurors that when he went to Orchard Park Police Headquarters after killing his wife he felt "safe."

There was a lot of activity at the police station, he said, and he realized that his "whole story was so complicated." He said he was "very tired and very exhausted" so he invoked his right not to speak to police. 

"Emotionally, I was completely drained," Hassan said.

The thought of running to Pakistan, he said, never crossed his mind.


4:14 p.m.: Hassan told the jurors that he felt as though God gave him "extra courage" as he killed his wife.

"But at the very moment, like when all this happened, I mean, I did it, but I felt like it was not really me," Hassan told the jurors.

He described the experience like "watching some kind of movie."

Afterward, he said, he felt incredible relief.

"I felt like I had just escaped from a terrorist camp," Hassan recalled. "I felt that the whole weight of the world had just been lifted off my shoulders. I felt a sense of enormous peace, like I felt my struggle was not with Aasiya, it was with the evil dragon."


4:04 p.m.: Hassan told the jurors that he left his office in the late afternoon on Feb. 12, 2009, and went for a drive.

"I just badly needed fresh air," Hassan said.

As he drove, he said, his thoughts were like "mush." He had trouble telling his "thoughts" from his "feelings."

"In my heart, I'm just feeling like everything is collapsing," Hassan recalled. "There's a lot of things going through my head at this time."

Hassan told the jurors he considered leaving the country, but was concerned that his children would be raised by an abuser and their future would be ruined.

He felt that going to the legal system was a "closed door" because nobody believed him.

During the drive, he said, he ended up at Walmart, where he bought the two hunting knives. One of the knives, he told the jurors, was for a male friend and former co-worker who did not have a knife to cut wood. 

The day before, Hassan said, he told his wife he felt "like I'm a hostage at the mercy of a terrorist."


3:58 p.m.: During a lunchtime conversation in the conference room for Bridges TV on Feb. 12, 2009, Aasiya Hassan demanded to see his phone records, Hassan testified.

The two went through his phone records during the discussion, which lasted from 12 p.m. to about 3 p.m. 

"It was like a whole half an hour worth of interrogation of who I'm calling and so forth," Hassan recalled. 

When Hassan told Aasiya that he had discussed his mother's medication with his female friend, she told him, "She's making room for herself, and I'm not even out the door," Hassan recalled.

It was during that meeting in the conference room, Hassan testified, that Aasiya Hassan took out a kitchen knife and demanded that Hassan cut off discussions with the female friend.

Hassan said his wife's hand was shaking as she pulled out the knife.

"I just sat there, did not make any move," Hassan told the jurors.

Hassan said it was the "fourth time in four months" that Aasiya Hassan had threatened his life. First, he said, it was a threat of poison. On two other occasions, he said, she threatened him with a knife or to kill him in his sleep.


3:48 p.m.: On Feb. 8, 2009, Hassan sent his wife a text message saying he also felt divorce was the right step.

"I'm in agreement that divorce is the right course," Hassan read from a text message sent early that morning. "Your need for control prevents friendship from blossoming."

That week, he said, he brought her a toasted bagel with cream cheese -- her favorite -- from the hotel each morning.

On Feb. 9. 2009, he sent a text message to Aasiya Hassan that read: "I will feel loved if you can negotiate without weapons, but with love for me."

The text messages are among a series Hassan is reading from that were sent from his cell phone the week of Aasiya Hassan's death. 


3:32 p.m.: In a text message Hassan sent to a friend on Feb. 5, 2009, he discussed his view that he was being abused and bullied by Aasiya Hassan.

"I was too afraid to stand up to the bully. That's why I really appreciate you," he wrote at 9:54 p.m. Feb. 5, 2009, to the female friend.

A minute later, he wrote: "I think people see my gender, my size and our culture and they make stereotypes that this is not possible."

Hassan is reading from February 2009 text messages from his cell phone that were previously entered into evidence by a Sprint Nextel employee during the prosecution's presentation. 


3:23 p.m.: Hassan told the jurors that during a lunchtime meeting at their office on Feb. 11, 2009, Aasiya Hassan made more demands of him.

He testified that she asked for $10,000 each year so that she could go to Pakistan in exchange for dropping the divorce.

Hassan said Aasiya Hassan laughed and said the money would be less than child support.

"I said, 'Aasiya, this is not right for you to be negotiating with weapons like this,'" Hassan recalled.

Later in the day, Hassan said, his wife told him that she would have to think about withdrawing the divorce papers to protect her credibility and that the two would have to "take it slowly."

That night, he said, the two left "on good terms again."


3:17 p.m.: Hassan testified  that he told a counselor in early February 2009 that he considered Aasiya Hassan "to be a good person" and that he "didn't blame her."

"It's not her fault," Hassan recalled telling the counselor. "But it's just something that needs to be fixed."

It was her behavior, he said, that was "basically killing me." 

Hassan told the jurors that on the Sunday before Aasiya Hassan's death, the two were talking about getting back together. But the next day, he said, there were "more demands."


3:13 p.m.: The jury has returned.


3:11 p.m.: Hassan told the judge he expects to wrap up his narrative today of the events leading up to Aasiya Hassan's death.

The jury has left the room, and Hassan has asked the judge to submit a court transcript as evidence. The transcript, he told the judge, includes a diagnosis made of himself and Aasiya Hassan by a psychologist, Dr. Kenneth Condrell. Also in the pages, he said, Aasiya makes statements that negates earlier testimony.

Franczyk said he will not rule on whether the transcript can be admitted into evidence until prosecutors have had time to review the documents.

"Consider it offered and reserved," Franczyk said.

Hassan then told the judge that he hopes to read from the transcript after he finishes his direct narrative today. 


3:02 p.m.: Hassan has told the jurors that in the days leading up to receiving the divorce papers, Aasiya Hassan had been friendly and had brought him one of his favorite foods, chicken wings, for lunch.

He later learned, he said, that she had sought an order of protection around the same day.

"I'm thinking, she is having fun with me," Hassan recalled. "And then, behind my back, she's telling people she's afraid of me."

Hassan said he told a counselor that his wife's actions were like "constant terrorism." He described the police reports and the order of protection like a "gun is put to my head" because he had to do what was demanded of him.


2:53 p.m.: Hassan told the jurors he felt "blindsided" when he was served with divorce papers on Feb. 6, 2009.

He said he had "no clue where it was coming from."

Hassan said he received the papers at about 4:30 p.m. that day. 

"When I realized what it was, my immediate reaction was like a little smile, kind of shaking my head," Hassan recalled. "Like, oh, there she goes again, playing her games."

Hassan said he was "used to these kind of attacks."

Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable objected to the description of the divorce papers as an "attack." The judge sustained the objection.

Hassan said the divorce papers did not include an order of protection, so he went to his home on Big Tree Road at about 6 or 7 p.m. No one was home, so he came back later at about 8 p.m., when he saw his family inside.

He said he broke a small window pane on the door because he was locked out, but cut his hand. A short time later, he said, the police showed up.

A police officer has previously testified that Hassan was placed in a police car that night, but was not charged for the incident.

Hassan said he slept that night at his office and was "feeling very isolated, completely cut off from my family."

"It was a very painful time for me, I mean, in my mind," Hassan said. "It was absolutely clear to me that Aasiya was being manipulative and abusive, and I was trying to figure out how to protect my children from this kind of environment."

That Sunday, he said, he got a room for one month at the Clarion Hotel.


2:40 p.m.: Hassan told the jurors that Aasiya Hassan agreed to attend domestic violence class with him in 2008, as long as he also went.

"She was like, 'as long as you go, I'll go with you,'" Hassan recalled. Hassan said he was willing to "take anything."

Aasiya was interested in attending domestic violence class for women, but that option did not exist, Hassan said.

Being forced to attend domestic violence class once a week for six months, Hassan said, made him feel "humiliated." He said he felt as though he was being "indoctrinated" as an abuser because he was a man.

During the class, he said, he saw four popular movies starring actors including Nick Nolte, Tina Turner, Jennifer Lopez and Farrah Fawcett in which they each played main characters who either killed their abusers or kidnapped their children to escape abuse. 

"This was being taught in this class," Hassan said. "And it just to me did not make any sense."


2:23 p.m.: If Hassan wraps up his direct testimony this afternoon, prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable has asked the judge that she be given until tomorrow morning to start her cross examination.

Curtin Gable requested that she be given "overnight to digest" Hassan's testimony.

"I don't think it's an unfair request on behalf of the People," Curtin Gable said.

Franczyk said he would reserve his judgement on the matter.

Hassan has returned to the witness stand, and the jury is entering the courtroom.


1:48 p.m.: Jeremy Schwartz, Hassan's legal advisor, told reporters during the lunch break that cross examination of his client could start as early as this afternoon. He said Hassan has shown a 'marked change of pace today" in his testimony. Listen to an audio clip of Schwartz speaking to reporters here


12:45 p.m.: Franczyk has stopped the testimony for lunch. Testimony is scheduled to resume at 2:15 p.m.


12:42 p.m.: Hassan said that by Jan. 20, 2009, Aasiya Hassan had become "super nice," bringing him lunch and visiting him often at his office at the Bridges TV building.

"It's all very pleasant and nice," Hassan recalled.

The behavior, he said, struck him as "odd." He told the jurors that he kept a log on an Excel spreadsheet in the office to keep track of the number of times she had entered his office during the week ending Jan. 23, 2009. She came in more than 60 times, Hassan said.

Hassan said he thought maybe Aasiya Hassan had returned to counseling. Instead, he said, he found out Feb. 6, 2009, that during that week she had already retained a divorce lawyer.


12:37 p.m.: Hassan said his entire family -- Aasiya Hassan's brother, his parents and other family members -- got involved in their marital problems in January 2009.

There were numerous phone calls between all of the family members, he said.

Around that time, Hassan said, he was also documenting the back and forth between himself and Aasiya Hassan.

He claims Aasiya discounted him by saying he was repetitive in his descriptions: "Aasiya discounts me that I'm just repeating myself, I'm repeating myself."

Aasiya Hassan, he said, later threatened to send an e-mail blast to all of the shareholders of Bridges TV to expose him.

Hassan also told the jurors that Aasiya Hassan told him, "if I don't stop writing, she's going to murder me in my sleep."

Hassan said e-mails were "flying" between himself, Aasiya Hassan, her family in Pakistan and his family in Dallas when he ran away to Toronto in mid-January 2009.


12:27 p.m.: Hassan described an incident in which he called another woman in December 2008 while Aasiya Hassan was in the room as a way to stop his wife from describing their marital problems to her brother.

"You don't need to bring people into our bedroom like this," Hassan recalls telling Aasiya Hassan to stop her from calling her brother. "This is very hurtful to me."

In desperation, Hassan said, he called the other woman to get Aasiya Hassan to stop talking to her brother.

"This kind of stuff has happened so many different times," Hassan said in describing his various attempts to get Aasiya Hassan to stop talking to her brother on the phone about their marriage. Nothing, he said, ever worked, so he tried calling the other woman.

Another time, Hassan said, Aasiya Hassan broke his glasses. During another incident around the same time, he testified, Aasiya Hassan was in the kitchen using a knife to cut meat. He said she told him: "I feel like putting this right through you."

A few hours later, Hassan said, his wife acted like nothing had happened.

Hassan has now ended his testimony of the events of 2008 and has started describing the events of early 2009.


12:15 p.m.: Frank M. Bogulski, a defense attorney who previously represented Hassan, has been observing the proceedings this morning in the courtroom.


12:12 p.m.: Hassan wanted to enter into evidence a picture of himself and a Bridges TV employee having a business lunch at a restaurant in Virginia on Monday, Nov. 24, 2008, that he claims showed that Aasiya Hassan interrupted the meal with a threatening text message.

Franczyk questioned how the picture showed evidence that the lunch was interrupted or even showed that the restaurant was in Virginia.

"It's two fellows having a fish fry in a restaurant," Franczyk said.

Hassan claims that the photograph shows a cell phone in which he received the text message. The judge did not allow the picture into evidence. Hassan continued with his story.

Hassan says he received a text message during the lunch that day at 2:06 p.m. in which Aasiya Hassan if he did not call her within 30 minutes, "she's going to go public with our dirty laundry."


12:03 p.m.: Franczyk has not allowed Hassan to enter into evidence a record Hassan kept of his feelings after he spoke with Aasiya Hassan over the telephone for several months in 2008.

Each time he hung up, Hassan said, he felt "an extreme amount of pain." He told the judge that he used the log as a cathartic exercise.

Franczyk said Hassan could articulate the feelings he felt if they are relevant, but that the written record of the feelings would be "inadmissible, self-serving hearsay."


11:58 a.m.: Hassan said Aasiya Hassan, while she was in South Africa in 2008, told him she had found a lawyer and planned to file for divorce.

Hassan said she told him that he would never see his kids again.

"So I shut up," Hassan recalled.

In the second half of June 2008, he testified, Aasiya Hassan went to Pakistan for her sister's wedding. He said he sent her dresses and other items.

"Things are getting better again when she's in Pakistan," Hassan testified.

He was so depressed around that same time, Hassan said, he stepped into a psychic office in New York City.

"They all made fun of me," Hassan said. 


11:51 a.m.: Hassan described finding an American Express statement in the mail in June 2008 as a "bombshell."

The couple, he said, did not use credit cards.

Hassan said he learned from the statement that Aasiya Hassan had bought three tickets in March for herself and two children to travel to South Africa. The purchase of the tickets, he said, was before a fight he said Aasiya Hassan had used as the reason for her flight out of the country.

Hassan also said he was confused because Aasiya Hassan had told him she bought the tickets with money that her father had wired.

"I felt betrayed and disoriented as to what is going on," Hassan said.


11:45 a.m.: Hassan contends that he tried to convince Aasiya Hassan to remain in South Africa for a year in 2008 rather than returning home to Orchard Park.

He said he told Aasiya Hassan that "between your denial and my repetition, we're a combustible mix."

Hassan said he told Aasiya Hassan he would pay for her and the children to live abroad.

"Let's try to live apart for one year and get some focused treatment or help on our own," Hassan said. 

The argument over whether she should return home, he said, went on for four or five days. He claims it was Aasiya Hassan who wanted to return. 


11:40 a.m.: Hassan told jurors he asked Aasiya Hassan to send an e-mail to M&T Bank to straighten out bank charges in her account while she was out of the country in May 2008.

Hassan points to an e-mail he said he sent to Aasiya Hassan asking about the bank charges as evidence that he did not have access to her e-mail account. Hassan said Aasiya Hassan accused him in early 2009 of forcing her to give him access to her e-mail.

"The point being, I did not have access to her e-mail," Hassan said. "Otherwise, I could have done this directly."

Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable has opposed the e-mail being entered into evidence, along with all other e-mail correspondence that has not been verified.

Franczyk said he would reserve judgement as to whether the e-mail could be entered into evidence.

"Put this in the pile as 'to be determined,'" Franczyk said.


11:23 a.m.: The judge has given jurors a five-minute break.


11:22 a.m.: Hassan said he came home on Monday, May 5, 2008, to find his wife and youngest children gone.

He said his oldest daughter gave him a two-sentence note from Aasiya Hassan at about 11 p.m. that said she was leaving the country for medical treatment.

Hassan has also had a picture placed on one of the television screens that he says shows Aasiya Hassan without injuries during a birthday party for one of their children around the same time.

The picture, Hassan claims, shows Aasiya Hassan was not injured.

The note, Hassan said, came "completely as a shock to me."


11:15 a.m.: Hassan has explained punching Aasiya Hassan in the nose by saying he lost his temper after she smashed his digital camera in the spring of 2008.

Hassan said he felt "terrible" after that happened.

He told the jurors that there wasn't a police report of the incident and that he was also injured during the conflict.

Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable objected to Hassan's characterization of why there wasn't a police report of the incident. Hassan had contended there wasn't a report because he was also injured. 


11:11 a.m.: Franczyk has told Hassan not to reduce his testimony to summary filler phrases like "da, da, da, da, da" after prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable objected.

"Confine your testimony to words," Franczyk said. 


11:07 a.m.: Hassan explained a "memorandum of understanding" that was previously entered into evidence by saying it was a "protection mechanism" that allowed him to move back home.

The agreement, signed between Hassan and his wife and entered into evidence by the prosecution, set out a list of punishments Aasiya Hassan would face if she violated certain rules, including going to police or Child Protection Services.

Hassan contents the document was meant to protect him.

Hassan said Aasiya Hassan used the threat of going to government agencies as "weapons" against him.

During a business trip in early March to Saudi Arabia, Hassan said, he was fearful that a Saudi prince he was negotiating with would do a background check on him and discover the police and Child Protection Services reports.

"It was that kind of fear that I constantly lived in," Hassan said.


11:02 a.m.: Hassan said he created the written "roadmap" for his relationship with Aasiya Hassan so that the couple could use it to work on their marriage.

Hassan said both listed what they needed from the marriage.

Hassan said what he needed from Aasiya Hassan was to stop going to the police, Child Protective Services or doctors. 

The couple used the documents in January and February of 2008.

Hassan said he continued to live in a hotel at the beginning of March. He contends it was Aasiya Hassan who wanted him to move back home, but he was afraid and wanted a "protection mechanism." 


10:54 a.m.: Franczyk has stopped Hassan from entering into evidence an online personality profile test Hassan said he and his wife took together.

The judge said the results of the online test would be hearsay.

Hassan also asked to enter into evidence a four-page document entitled "roadmap" that Hassan said he created with Aasiya Hassan to detail the steps they should take to a better relationship.

"For almost two or three months we used it daily during this period," Hassan said.

Franczyk has allowed the document into evidence.


10:45 a.m.: Hassan has picked up where he left off yesterday in describing the events of his marriage. He has started his testimony with January 2008.

His testimony in the first few minutes has already garnered several objections from prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable.

When Hassan motioned to a pile of papers that is more than 3 inches tall and said, "these are all the e-mails I am not going through," Curtin Gable lodged an objection.

"What's the relevance of that?" Curtin Gable asked.

"To speed things up," Hassan said.

A few minutes later, the judge sustained another objection when Hassan repeated information he had testified to yesterday.


10:39 a.m.: Hassan has returned to the witness stand and is continuing his testimony.


10:37 a.m.: The jury has re-entered the courtroom. Franczyk is asking the jury whether they have seen media accounts of the trial, discussed the case with anyone or made any decisions regarding the case. All of the jurors answered no.


9:48 a.m.: A line has formed again outside of Franczyk's courtroom as members of the press and the public wait for the trial to resume.


Read News Staff Reporter Sandra Tan's account of Day 9 of the trial in "Testimony follows Hassan threat to leave."

See The News' entire coverage of the Mo Hassan case, including video, audio and previous stories, on the Mo Hassan topics page

--Denise Jewell Gee

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