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The trial of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan: Day 14

BUFFALO -- A jury found Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan guilty of second-degree murder this afternoon.

The jury had deliberated about an hour. Here's Sandra Tan's full story.

Closing arguments concluded this afternoon, with Hassan addressing jurors for nearly two hours this morning. 

Hassan, 46, had been 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.

Prosecutor Collen Curtin Gable has delivered the people's closing argument.

Erie County Court Judge Thomas P. Franczyk, who has allowed Hassan to represent himself, is presiding.

Check out this timeline from inside the courtroom today:

5:13 p.m.: Sedita says Hassan was not tried with first-degree murder because the case did not meet the statutory criteria.

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5:11 p.m.: Sedita says his office will argue for the maximum, 25-years-to-life sentence.

That means Hassan would have to serve at least 25 years in state prison before he was eligible for parole.

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5:09 p.m.: Asked what part of the case most surprised them, prosecutors had a number of things to say.

Sedita: "How extraordinarily manipulative this man was to women, especially women in his life."

Bonanno: That Hassan never talked about the actual murder in his closing arguments.

Curtin Gable: The experts he called, who were not helpful to him.

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5:02 p.m.: Sedita said most of Hassan's witnesses helped the prosecution.

The DA also said he's very confident the case will be safe on appeal, which he expects Hassan to file.

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4:57 p.m.: Colleen Curtin Gable was asked about when she got emotional near the end of her closing statement.

She said that as a homicide prosecutor, she's always representing someone who is murdered.

She said she was thinking about Aasiya Hassan, a young mother who was trying to make a better life for her and her children.

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4:53 p.m.: District Attorney Frank Sedita and the prosecutors from this case are holding a press conference in the DA's office.

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4:43 p.m.: Jurors are being escorted to their vehicles by court officers.

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4:42 p.m.: Sentencing March 9 at 9:30 a.m.

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4:42 p.m.: No juror wants to speak with the media.

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4:41 p.m.: Each juror asked individually for their verdict. All say guilty.

 

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4:40 p.m.: Jury is being polled.

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4:39 p.m.: Verdict: GUILTY.

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4:37 p.m.: The judge said the jury submitted a note saying they have a verdict. That means the jury deliberated about an hour.

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4:35 p.m.: The judge says the jury has a verdict.

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4:25 p.m.: Court officials now report the jury was allowed to start deliberating at 3:35 p.m.

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3:47 p.m.: Court officials report the jury was allowed to begin deliberating at about 3:25 p.m.

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3:41 p.m.: Judge Franczyk is hearing other cases in his courtroom.

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3:40 p.m.: The jury has still not been given the go-ahead to start deliberating yet.

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3:31 p.m.: Mo Hassan was just taken from the courtroom. He was carrying a box of paperwork.

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3:25 p.m.: A couple jurors have been taken outside and allowed to have a smoke.

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3:24 p.m.: Jury instructions took a little more than a half-hour.

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3:20 p.m.: Judge says instructions are over. The jury is leaving the courtroom, but asked not to start deliberating until they are given the OK. Parties in the courtroom have to gather up evidence to be given to the jury, the judge says.

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3:11 p.m.: A person is not justified if he or she is the initial aggressor, though that does not necessarily mean they must have struck the first blow, the judge says.

A person is not justified if he or she could have retreated, he continued.

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3:07 p.m.: The defendant does not have to prove he was justified -- it's up to the prosecutors to prove he was not justified, according to the judge.

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3:05 p.m.: A person having intent to commit a crime does not have to have done any advanced planning, the judge instructs the jury.

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3:03 p.m.: Referring to testimony from a woman who knew Mo Hassan during graduate school (mid-1990s), the judge issued this instruction involving character witness:

Evidence of good character, even if believed, does not excuse criminal conduct, if that conduct is proven beyond reasonable doubt, Franczyk said.

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3:01 p.m.: A Buffalo woman who came to watch closing arguments today spoke with reporters during the lunch break. She said she has been a victim of domestic violence. Listen to what she had to say here.

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2:54 p.m.: Prior to starting the jury instructions, the judge ruled there will be no cameras allowed in the courtroom for the verdict.

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2:53 p.m.: The judge is now describing terms like burden of proof, presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt.

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2:52 p.m.: The jury instructions will be given in three phases: general criminal law; elements of the crime; and the deliberations process and the verdict sheet.

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2:47 p.m.: All parties are back in the courtroom and the jury is coming back in.

The judge has said it will take about 35 to 40 minutes for him to give the jury legal instructions prior to deliberation.

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2:37 p.m.: Court in recess for five minutes.

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2:33 p.m.: The judge says his instructions to the jury will take about 35 to 40 minutes.

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2:32 p.m.: The people's closing statement was exactly an hour long.

The jury has left the courtroom.

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2:31 p.m.: Curtin Gable: "And now is my final time to speak for her. That is my job, my duty, my priviledge, to speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves; to seek justice for them."

She has concluded her closing statement.

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2:29 p.m.: Curtin Gable slightly choking up during this portion of her statement, noting we can't hear from Aasiya, herself, about what happened.

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2:21 p.m.: Curtin Gable says this was "textbook overkill."

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2:20 p.m.: During the prosecution's closing statement -- now about 50 minutes old -- Hassan has sat quietly. Most of the time, he's been facing forward in his chair, occasionally looking at a television monitor next to his table which shows the prosecution's presentation.

The prosecution was showing autopsy photos of Aasiya's body. Mo Hassan was watching the monitor.

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2:13 p.m.: There is no evidence Mo Hassan was a victim anywhere but in his own mind, Curtin Gable said.

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2:12 p.m.: Now outlining characteristics of victims.

"When the victim finally tries to leave, it's only when the victim realizes it's never going to get better," she said. "And whom does that describe? That describes Aasiya. Certainly not this defendant."

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2:11 p.m.: Prosecution now outlining characteristics of abusers in abusive relationships.

"The abuser is overcontrolling including financial control and isolation of a victim from friends and family," she said.

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2:08 p.m.: Review of Mo Hassan's actions, almost minute-by-minute, in time before, during and after kiling.

When he went to the police station after the killing, he was calm and there were no tears, unlike when he was on the stand in court, Curtin Gable said.

Hassan's reaction was more like a business transaction, calmly making lists and asking for things he needs, she said.

"When he murdered his wife, he wasn't out of it. ... No, he's simply refusing to give details of the horrific killing he committed."

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2:02 p.m.: Jury is being shown surveillance video of killing again.

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1:59 p.m.: The prosecution is outlining Mo Hassan's actions on the day of the murder.

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1:57 p.m.: Mo Hassan, if he was the abuse victim, had an out when his wife served divorce papers, Curtin Gable said.

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1:56 p.m.: Mo Hassan's intent was clear based on his actions, plunging a knife into his wife more than 40 times and beheading her, Curtin Gable said.

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1:50 p.m.: The prosecutor is telling the jury to weigh whether Mo Hassan was credible.

She's also explaining why she had raise so many objections during testimony, saying it was her duty to do so when what Mo Hassan did wasn't legally permissible.

"Please don't hold that against me, don't hold that against our case," she said.

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1:43 p.m.: More from the prosecution's closing arguments:

"There is absolutely no doubt that the defendant killed his wife intentionally -- the elements of murder in the 2nd degree," Curtin Gable said. "The one question you have to resolve is was he justified in doing so. And folks there is equally no doubt that he was not justified."

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1:40 p.m.: Curtin Gable is recalling incidents witnesses testified to on the stand.

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1:38 p.m.: The prosecutor tells the jury Hassan bought the knives for one purpose: "and that was to kill Aasiya."

She's now reviewing incidents in which Mo Hassan was the clear abuser, she said.

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1:35 p.m.: Prosecutor Collen Curtin Gable challenged Hassan's arguement he killed his wife in self defense.

"She brought him his clean laundry," Curtin Gable said. "He set upon her with two hunting knives and he wants you to believe that this was self defense."

She said she wants the jury to consider the credible and reliable evidence.

Him killing her was his "detrminiation to control her one last time."

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1:30 p.m.: The defendant is in court, and we're waiting for the jury to re-enter the courtroom.

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1:27 p.m.: The courtroom has been opened to the public and reporters.

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12:18 p.m.: After the judge told Hassan he had nine minutes left, Hassan told the jury his relationship was like that of a master-slave, terrorist-hostage and jailer-prisoner relationship.

He said he felt trapped, betrayed, helpless, exploited and shaken.

It was like he was being raped, like his rights were stolen, he said.

He concluded with this: "I don't blame my wife. I blame the so-called profesionals. I want you to hold them (pointing to the prosecutors) accountable and responsible."

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12:11 p.m.: Mo Hassan spent the last several minutes talking to the jury, in general, about how he saw his relationship with his wife.

In the last few moments of his statement, he quieted his voice.

In the entire two hours, he never talked about the killing. Only once in the whole statement did he refer to it, calling it "the event."

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12:07 p.m.: Mo Hassan has ended his closing arguments. The jury is released for lunch.

Court will resume at 1:30 p.m.

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12:01 p.m.: Mo Hassan has nine minutes left, the judge tells him.

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11:57 a.m.: Mo Hassan was given two hours for a closing statement. He started at 10:02 a.m. and there was a break for about seven minutes, so he's got about 12 minutes left.

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11:49 a.m.: Hassan is likening himself to a dog living inside an invisible fence, repeatedly receiving shocks when it tries to escape.

He said he received so many "shocks" -- reports from police, Child Protective Services, and others -- he stopped trying to escape.

"You give up, just like that dog," he said.

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11:38 a.m.: After raising an objection about a document Hassan showed on the screen to the jury, prosecutor Collen Curtin Gable removes the document.

"Please don't touch my papers," Hassan said.

The judge then orders Hassan to direct his comments to the court.

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11:32 a.m.: Hassan has softened his voice in this part of his closing argument.

"It was not Aasiya's fault that she was abusive," he said. "We don't get to choose our parents."

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11:27 a.m.: Hassan is reading from an email he says Aasiya wrote to him describing the abuse she suffered from her father.

Her parents' marriage and her sister's made her "scared" of marriage, she wrote, according to Hassan.

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11:24 a.m.: Mo Hassan is showing the jury a sketch he did of a pendulum, which shows the range of descriptions of the relationship between himself and Aasiya.

He says his wife tried to keep him in "puppy dog mode."

"But the moment I try to express my hurt and pain," when he would try the pair to talk to counselors, "...I am hit with attacks of false accusations, so it brings me right back to the puppy dog mode."

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11:16 a.m.: Mo Hassan talking about his offer to get a vasectomy and when his wife went on birth control.

One month, she missed her period and then was threatening to have the baby.

"And it's one whole month of brutality," he said.

Mo Hassan closed his eyes and shook his head as he said that.

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11:06 a.m.: Mo Hassan tells the jury he was not harsh to his wife in e-mails seeking her to get help.

"I never blamed Aasiya -- I blamed the virus, I blamed the evil dragon. It is some kind of a disease," he said.

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11:02 a.m.: It's been one hour since Mo Hassan started his closing argument.

He's got another 65 minutes, according to the judge's rules.

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10:58 a.m.: The jury is back in, and Mo Hassan picks back up with a Nov. 21 "false accusation" against him.

Three court officers are sitting directly behind Mo, who is back at the podlum facing the jury.

There's another court officer in front and to the right of the podium. Another officer is behind the defense table.

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10:55 a.m.: Jury is being called back into the courtroom.

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10:48 a.m.: Judge lets jury leave for five-minute recess.

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10:46 a.m.: Hassan tells the jury there was an incident of alleged abuse when she was at home and he was in Dubai.

"Either the doctor has been brainwashed," he said, "or I have a very long arm."

He goes on to refer to Gandhi, Reagan and Mandela, saying they weren't battling people but false religions.

Mo says his enemy is the "false belief in the false religion of patriarchy."

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10:40 a.m.: Mo Hassan is about 40 minutes into his closing statement.

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10:38 a.m.: Mo Hassan refers to incident in which he said either he or his son elbowed Aasiya.

Hassan says there's nothing in the police report about that.

"They don't like to ask the question, 'Who started it?'"

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10:32 a.m.: Mo Hassan said Aasiya regularly told doctors of abuse two or three weeks prior, explaining why there were no marks or bruises.

"The doctors have been brainwashed," he said.

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10:30 a.m.: Mo Hassan tells the jury he will go through all the doctor's reports in evidence.

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10:28 a.m.: Mo Hassan has made multiple references to documents not in evidence, eliciting repeated objections from prosecutors.

One of Hassan's references was to page 453 of Nelson Mandela's autobiography. Seems to be referring to Mandela admitting to using violent means, even though he was awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize.

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10:24 a.m.: Hassan is continuing to say that there is a lack of eyewitnesses of abuse, or witnesses who saw injuries on Aasiya.

"Nobody's saying 'I saw him do it.' They want you to believe that allegation is evidence," Mo Hassan said.

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10:21 a.m.: Mo Hassan is telling the jury that Aasiya was a victim of abuse as a child, which led to her alleged abusiveness.

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10:17 a.m.: Mo Hassan tells the jury there was a lack of eyewitnesses to any beatings or marks or bruises from beatings.

He says medical staff who treated Aasiya were manipulated by her.

He references an instance from Texas when there was a bruise on her body. At that time, she was "a crazy, lunatic, out of control person," and he was trying to restrain her, Hassan tells the jury.

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10:12 a.m.: Mo Hassan is reading portions of e-mails from Aasiya from 2000 in which she says he's considerate, sweet and gentle.

Hassan asks if he had a major personality change in the last two years before he killed Aasiya.

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10:09 a.m.: Mo Hassan says hello to jury at the start of his statements.

He thanks them for coming and for listening to his side of the story.

Tries to make the point that the prosecution, during its case, has never "asked who started it."

Mo Hassan tries to allude to film, "Disclosure," but judge doesn't allow it because it can't be proven everyone in the jury has seen it.

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10:04 a.m.: Mo Hassan has begun his closing argument.

He is standing at a podium in front of the jury box facing them.

Four court officers are standing behind him. One is standing in front.

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10:02 a.m.: The judge is giving the jury of an overview of what the closing arguments are.

The closing arguments are not evidence, but assessments of the evidence from each side's point of view, the judge tells the jury.

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9:58 a.m.: The jury is being brought in.

Judge reminds both sides their closing arguments will be limited to two hours.

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9:53 a.m.: Judge is reading from emails between Mo and Aasiya.

Aasiya wrote that Mo had blackmailed her by gaining her e-mail account password.

She called his blackmail an attempt to "save [himself] from his own barbaric actions."

"The worst you can do is kill us," her e-mail continued.

The judge said Mo's attempt to get these e-mails entered are like Bela Lugosi in the original "Dracula" film when he walks past a mirror.

"Do you know what he can't see?" the judge said.

"Himself," Mo Hassan responded.

The jury has not been brought into the courtroom.

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9:42 a.m.: Mo Hassan wants to submit more emails into evidence.

Francyzk calls the process like "slow-drip water torture."

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9:40 a.m.: The judge and attorneys for both sides are discussing which evidence the jury will have access to inside their room when they deliberate.

Some documents will be allowed inside, video will be shown in the courtroom in the precense of all parties. For physical evidence, a court officer will go into the jury room to show the jury, but no discussion can be had in the precense of the court officer.

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9:07 a.m.: Staff Reporter Maki Becker took a look at the bizarre nature of the case and how it's riveted the region in this piece published Sunday.

To see all The News' coverage of the Hassan case, check out our topics page.

Watch Staff Reporter Sandra Tan recap the third week of the trial:

--Aaron Besecker

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