A man killed his 25-year-old daughter to uphold the family’s honor after the woman filed for divorce to end her arranged marriage.
“I put the rope around her neck and squeezed her,” Mr. Claudry Rashid told his family while in police custody “This was her destiny. She did wrong. She disgraced our family.”
But Mr. Raheed said his statements to his family should never have been admitted in court and filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Georgia to have his conviction and life sentence overturned. But on Tuesday the Supreme Court unanimously disagreed.
“[C]ontrary to Rashid’s contention, the evidence was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the malice murder of his daughter,” according to the opinion released Tuesday.
The following details obtained from court documents described a woman terrified her family might hurt for going against their wishes:
Mr. Rashid, who immigrated to the United States and later married a U.S. citizen, brought over his three sons and daughter, Ms. Sandeela Kanwal who were all living with Mr. Rashid’s brother in Pakistan.
In 2005, upon her dad’s insistence, Ms. Kanwal married her first cousin, the son of her father’s brother so that he too could immigrate to the United States.
Almost immediately after arriving in Atlanta in 2008, he left for Chicago. Having fulfilled her “duty to her family,” Ms. Kanwal decided to seek a divorce.
“When Sandeela’s family learned of her plan to end her marriage, they began to make it difficult for her to use a car, go to her job at Wal-Mart, or leave the house,” according to the court documents.
Ms. Kanwal told her friend, Ms. Tahira Dawood, that her family was accusing her of having affairs and she asked Ms. Dawood to take her to a doctor to prove she wasn't.
“Sandeela told Dawood she feared her family would harm her, including by poisoning her food,” according to the records. “Ultimately Dawood took Sandeela to an attorney to get the divorce.”
But a copy of the divorce papers was mailed inadvertently to the family’s house and on July 5, 2008, a “hysterical” Ms. Kanwal called Ms. Dawood because she feared “they would take measures against her.”
A day later Clayton County police responded to a 911 call at Mr. Rashid’s home and found the 57-year-old pizza shop owner distraught and sitting in the driveway, smoking a cigarette.
An officer found Ms. Kanwal dead upstairs on her bedroom floor, dressed in her Wal-Mart uniform. There were dark marks on her neck from being strangled, and remnants of a burned cord were found in the garage.
Mr. Rashid, who collapsed at the scene, was taken to a local hospital and then to the police department where detectives conducted a recorded interview.
He then asked to speak with his family, but the video recording equipment was still running and he discussed his daughter’s death, speaking both Punjabi and Urdu, and during the conversation said, “I put the rope around her neck and squeezed her.” “This was her destiny.” “She did wrong.” “She disgraced our family.” “God had written her death this way.” “I killed her and left.”
Mr. Rashid, who was charged with malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in November 2008, appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing in part that the videotape of his conversation with his family amounted to an unconstitutional search and seizure because he had a reasonable expectation of privacy. But the court disagreed.
“To establish a Fourth Amendment violation, a defendant must demonstrate both a ‘subjective’ expectation of privacy and that the expectation is one that society is willing to recognize as reasonable,” today’s opinion says.
“First, Rashid presents no Georgia law supporting his claim that a defendant may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a police interview room….In fact, he was handcuffed in the interview room throughout the conversation with his family, further evidencing the reality of his custody and the unreasonableness of any expectation of privacy.”
Mr. Rashid’s attorneys also argued the trial court erred by denying their request that the jury be instructed about assisted suicide. “But that is far from the case,” the opinion says.
“Despite Rashid’s claim to his family that during the fatal encounter the victim stated, ‘kill me, kill me,’ the record is devoid of evidence that the victim took her own life,” the opinion says.
“In fact, the evidence compellingly points to the contrary conclusion that the victim was in no manner suicidal, but rather feared for her safety and her very life, and was focused on survival.”
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