A Texas man on trial for murdering his two daughters in “honor killings” because they were dating American boys was called the “devil” in court Thursday by the girls’ mother, who detailed 15 years of abuse during their marriage.
Patricia Owens, Yaser Said’s former wife, had not seen him since New Year’s Day of 2008 — when he took their daughters Amina, 18, and Sarah, 17, to dinner and insisted on going alone so they could talk.
Instead, prosecutors say, Said shot the girls multiple times in the cab he drove and left them for dead outside a hotel in suburban Irving.
Owens testified that she and the girls had just returned to their home in Lewisville, Texas, from Oklahoma, where they had gone to get away from Said. She testified she knew the girls were dating — and that Said would have become enraged if he knew about it.
“I just thought he would, like, punish them, like take their phone away and stuff like that,” she said.
But long before 2008, Owens testified, she and her daughters were abused by Said. She told the jury how she married Said in 1987, when she was just 15 and he was 29. She gave birth to Amina, Sarah, and their brother Islam in the first three years of their marriage.
Owens claimed she left Said multiple times during the marriage and described him as controlling.
In 1998, while living near Waco, Texas, Owens filed a report with the Hill County Sheriff’s Office accusing Said of sexually abusing the two girls. She took all three children and left him for months, before returning and telling the girls to recant their story.
“I felt scared not to go back,” Owens explained. “Yaser was abusive.”
In late 2007, Owens and her daughters fled again to Tulsa, Okla., after the girls feared their father would kill them if he learned they had both become engaged to their boyfriends. Owens said Said had previously threatened Amina with a gun.
The mother and daughters returned to Texas to finish their schooling on the promise that Said would leave the family home. Even then, Amina refused to go back to the house, fearful of the repercussions.
When prosecutors asked Owens if she knew what would happen when they returned, she replied, “Part of me did. Part of me didn’t.”
Earlier this week, prosecutors played a recording of a 911 call placed by Sarah after she had been shot, but was still alive.
“My father shot me. I’m dying,” Sarah said in the recording.
Said, who was arrested in August 2020 after more than a decade on the lam, has maintained his innocence and his lawyer has argued that he is being targeted by law enforcement for being Muslim in a post-Sept. 11 world.
He will serve an automatic life sentence if he’s found guilty.