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The trial of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan: Day 12

BUFFALO -- The murder trial of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan continues today.

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

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


Audio from Hassan legal adviser Jeremy D. Schwartz following today's sessions:

5 p.m.: The jury should receive the case for deliberations on Monday, according to the judge. This will happen after the defense calls its last witness, a former family therapist, tomorrow. Both sides to make closing arguments Monday morning before the matter is ideally delivered to the jury for deliberation by lunchtime.

That's it for this live blog. Thanks for reading. Review all the day's developments below. The live blog will continue Friday with Day 13.

4:45 p.m.: Bonanno is now conducting the cross-examination of Dr. Horwitz, the doctor and defense witness who performed a personality analysis on the defendant.

Bonanno reconfirmed with Horwitz that abusers isolate victims from their family, are often in denial and blame the victim, leave their victims financially dependent and spend lots of time ruminating on the victim's faults.

He also had Horwitz confirm that abusers who ultimately kill their spouses "overkill" them, using "a level of violence that is excessive and unnecessary." Stabbing is a common means of killing a victim in such cases.

4:27 p.m.: Hassan asks a question about manipulation. Horwitz flatly responds, "I don't know." He's been on the witness stand for more than two hours now. And Hassan just announced he's finished with his questions. Judge called for a 10 minute recess then will allow the prosecutors to begin their redirect.

4:22 p.m.: Hassan asks why abusers need so much control. "I think I've already answered that..." begins Horwitz. "Need not repeat," says Franczyk. "Asked and answered." And a few moments later Franczyk reprimands the defendant for asking questions that have already been asked. "Please move on to something we have yet to cover," he said.

4:19 p.m.: Hassan often asks the witness if he's familiar with certain medical literature and books about abuse.

4:14 p.m.: Defendant and witness are talking about "overkill" in spousal homicides, how abusers often use more violence than necessary to kill their victims, such as repeatedly stabbing them. Hassan thinks Horwitz is referring to victims killing their abusers, but Horwitz clarifies that he's talking about abusers killing their victims.

4:00 p.m.: Hassan asks Horwitz what he would call abusers' behavior. "Would you call it an 'evil dragon'?" Hassan asks, which is followed by an objection. Horwitz says he doesn't use that term. "That's my term," says Hassan.

3:57 p.m.: Hassan asks about the manipulative nature of abusers. Horwitz agrees abusers are very manipulative. Hassan asks if this is akin to "brainwashing" and questions Horwitz about abusers' "brainwashing powers."

3:49 p.m.: Hassan often begins his questions to Horwitz with "In your medical expertise..."

3:42 p.m.: Hassan again asks Horwitz to describe the battered spouse syndrome.

3:23 p.m.: Horwitz seems reluctant to give more than broad answers. Horwitz says to Hassan, "I think you have a particular paradigm you're trying to bring forward ... I think that's where the disconnect is here." Franczyk calls for a five minute recess.

3:16 p.m.: Hassan asks why a battered spouse stays in the relationship. Horwitz says they often believe an abuser will reform, and later often stay out of fear. He references a study that found that most spousal killings happen within the first two months of when a victim leaves the relationship.

3:09 p.m.: Horwitz defines the "battered spouse syndrome," which sees (mostly) women recanting testimony or not pressing charges against abusers, he says. But it's not like pregnancy, he says, where "you either have it or you don't."

3:03 p.m.: Long pauses in the courtroom between questions so Hassan can reference a medical book of psychological disorders and confer with his legal advisor. Hassan asks, "Can an abuser be delusional?" but the prosecution's objection is sustained. Judge wants Hassan to properly phrase questions. "I'm learning," Hassan says. "Well, this is not a tutorial," replies Franczyk.

2:56 p.m.: Hassan questions Horwitz about whether children can identify with the abuser in violent relationships. "Objection, your honor," says prosecutor Bonanno. "It's a very clear question," replies Hassan. Hassan's questions seem to be trying to frame Aasiya as the abuser in their marriage.

2:51 p.m.: Hassan jury looks distracted and bored at times. One juror looking at the floor while testimony continues.

2:48 p.m.: Hassan asks about women abusers -- how would they use psychological abuse rather than physical abuse? Putdowns and other attacks on abilities, looks, etc. replies Horwitz.

2:44 p.m.: "Are there types of abuse besides physical?" asks Hassan "Yes," replies Horwitz. "Such as?" asks Hassan. Horwitz then goes into explanation of verbal abuse and other types.

2:34 p.m.: Hassan questioning Horwitz about traits of abusers. "I think this is getting a little hard for me to follow," said Horwitz.

Horowitz then describes characteristics of personality traits, primarily that they are "overcontrolling."

2:28 p.m.:  Hassan questions his expert witness about what causes someone to become an abuser. Studies of abusive relationships show a pattern of degree of rejection by parents, Horwitz said.

2:21 p.m.: Hassan scored low on "interpersonally respectful" aspect of personality profile test and has a compulsive personality, says Horwitz.

2:17 p.m.: Hassan earlier said he expects Horwitz's testimony to take three hours.  Hassan is questioning him about personality profile tests and terminology associated with the tests.

2:10 p.m.: The trial has returned from its lunch recess. Hassan begins proceedings by bringing up a problem with getting access to e-mails. Back-and-forth between Franczyk and Hassan gets heated as judge is clearly frustrated with the pace of the trial that took nearly two years to begin. "Save it for the jury," Franczyk finally tells Hassan. Jury has just been seated. Hassan has called Dr. Gary Horwitz to the stand.

12:36 p.m.: Direct examination of Dr. Horwitz will begin at 2 p.m. Lunch break until then.

12:30 p.m.: Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable wants to know what Dr. Horwitz would be allowed to say on the stand. Also asks for a break before his testimony so they can prepare.

12:24 p.m.: They're now discussing whether Dr. Horwitz will be allowed to testify on the battered spouse issue. Judge says Hassan has a history of calling witnesses that appear to be "adverse to your cause."

12:17 p.m.: During cross examination, Telesco describes Hassan as "controlling and demanding" and Aasiya and "friendly and outgoing" except when she was in the presence of the defendant, in which case she became quiet and "did what she was told."

Jury is sent to the jury room so the judge, prosecution and defense can address matters. Franczyk seems concerned with where Hassan's defense strategy is headed considering the last three "defense" witnesses he's called, all of whom gave very damaging testimony against Hassan. "Is it still your intent to proceed down this path?" asks judge. Hassan says it is.

12:12 p.m.: Judge says Hassan is "trying to impeach his own witness" by suggesting doctor didn't have all the facts. Hassan has finished his re-direct and called Kristina Telesco, administrative assistant at Bridges TV, to the stand. Hassan says "hi" to Telesco when she takes the stand but Telesco says nothing in response. Telesco says Mo Hassan has a controlling personality and is very demanding. Aasiya, by contrast, was outgoing, friendly and quiet. Questioning lasts only a few minutes. "Did you ever see me hit Aasiya?" "No," says Telesco. "That's all your honor," says Hassan.

12:04 p.m.: Doctor is reviewing notes from a visit when "pleasant lady" Aasiya described pain from falls she sustained when she was pregnant. Doctor says often patients make excuses for injuries when they were actually caused by domestic violence.

12:00 p.m.: Mo Hassan never presented any traumatic injuries that would suggest domestic violence during a visit to the doctor's office, according to Dilamarter. Bonanno has finished his cross-exam and Hassan has begun his redirect.

11:55 a.m.: Dilamarter says Aasiya showed signs of domestic abuse even before she began reporting them in 2006. She reported three injuries during prior doctor's visits that she attributed to falls but had no neurological condition that would cause frequent falls "for no reason."

11:47 a.m.: Hassan has finished questioning his family doctor. The prosecution begins its cross-examination led by assistant district attorney Paul Bonanno. They're reviewing a note written by Dilamarter's physician's assistant about a domestic violence incident.

11:40 a.m.: Dilamarter asked to review medical progress not from a case in which he personally examined Aasiya for injuries related to domestic abuse. Hassan asks Dilamarter if he ever tried to get Hassan's side of the story. Dilamarter responds that he saw Hassan the next day.

"You admitted to me that you hurt her," he says.

"I did not," Hassan angrily replies.

Dilamarter says Hassan directly admitted to him that he struck his wife and was ashamed of his behavior.

11:27 a.m.: Franczyk has called for a five minute recess as Dilamarter finished reviewing another evaluation of Aasiya.

11:15 a.m.:  When Aasiya was examined in June 2007, she was told to get out of the "hostile environment" she was living in. Now they're talking about domestic violence counseling that Aasiya had received. Dilmarter says, "I think she'd had enough of counseling." He adds, "I think she'd been beaten up enough and counseling wasn't doing any good."

11:04 a.m.: Hassan is asking why Aasiya would ask for the morning after pill from her doctor when Mo Hassan had received a vasectomy. It's met with objections from prosecutors. "You're leading him now, he's your witness. So ask questions in proper form," said Franczyk.

10:58 a.m.: Hassan asks if Dilamarter recalls Aasiya having dark circles under her eyes as a natural pigmentation. Dilamarter does not recall.

10:45 a.m.: Hassan's general questions to Dilamarter about domestic violence patients are being met with objections from the prosecutors. They're sustained by Judge Franczyk. Dilamarter is reading notes from another doctor's physical exam of Aasiya Hassan. Mo Hassan is making the argument that the only evidence of domestic violence against Aasiya is from her own words.

10:34 a.m.: The jury has been seated. Dr. Thomas Dilamarter, a family practice physician and Hassan's doctor, has taken the stand. Hassan is questioning him about how domestic violence patients are treated. Dilamarter said he has seen Hassan approximately 20 times as a patient.

10:17 a.m.: Defense adviser Jeremy Schwartz says the defense has at least three witnesses waiting to testify. Prosecutors and the defendant are discussing some housekeeping matters such as whether Family Court transcripts will be brought up. The jury has not been seated yet.

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