Husband of slain Iraqi-American pleads not guilty to murder - San Diego, California Talk Radio Station - 760 KFMB AM - 760kfmb

Husband of slain Iraqi-American pleads not guilty to murder

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EL CAJON (CNS) - An Iraqi man whose wife was fatally beaten in their East County home last spring in what initially appeared to be a hate crime pleaded not guilty to a murder charge Tuesday afternoon.

Kassim Irzoqi Alhimidi, 48, was ordered held without bail and is due back in court on Nov. 28 for a preliminary hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to order him to stand trial.

El Cajon police arrested Alhimidi on Thursday. His wife, 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, was found mortally injured in their Skyview Street residence on March 21. A threatening note had been left "very close" to where she lay, Lt. Mark Coit said.

Police have declined to reveal the contents of the message, but the couple's 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, told reporters it read, in part, "go back to your country, you terrorist." Alawadi, a homemaker and mother of five, died of head injuries in a hospital three days later.

The grieving teen said her mother had been bludgeoned with a tire iron.

From the outset of their investigation into the slaying, police said they considered ethnic animosity only one of the possible motives.

Alawadi, who left her native country with her husband in 1991 to avoid running afoul of dictator Saddam Hussein, apparently had been planning to get a divorce and move with her children to Texas, where members of her family live, her brother told U-T San Diego.

At a March 27 memorial attended by religious dignitaries, dozens of mourners and a representative of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Alawadi's seemingly distraught spouse called on anyone with information about the deadly assault to come forward.

"If anyone knows anything about the murder, please don't be shy, and pass information to authorities," Alhimidi said in Arabic, with his youngest son, Mohammed, 15, translating his statements into English. "The main question we would like to ask is: Why did you do it, and what are you getting out of this?"

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