Posted on August 16, 2018

Jury Delivers Death Sentence for Jordanian Immigrant Convicted of Two Houston-Area ‘Honor Killings’

Brian Rogers, Chron, August 14

A Jordanian immigrant was sentenced Tuesday to death for a pair of 2012 “honor killings” that were part of an extensive plot to kill five people, including his daughter, in retribution for her leaving home, converting to Christianity and marrying a Christian.

Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, 60, slumped slightly when the verdict was read, but did not react otherwise.

The twisted saga that emerged during the trial of intolerance and violent reprisal by the domineering patriarch of an extended family living in a rural Montgomery County compound shocked local residents, and has attracted national and international news coverage since it first unfolded with Irsan’s arrest in 2014.

The lengthy trial, and disturbing testimony during the punishment phase about rapes, drugging, beatings and a previous homicide, left both jurors and family of the victims sniffling and wiping tears.


Jurors sat through seven weeks of testimony about Irsan’s rage and desire to “wash his honor in blood,” quickly convicting Irsan of the capital murder of his daughter’s new husband, Coty Beavers, 28, and her best friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30, an Iranian activist and medical researcher who supporter her choice.


Defense attorneys for Irsan said they were disappointed in the verdict and noted that it would automatically be appealed.


From the beginning of the trial two months ago, prosecutors said Irsan was hellbent on punishing his daughter and anyone who supported her break from the family.

“He wanted to kill her,” prosecutor Jon Stephenson told jurors during his opening statements. “But he wanted to kill all those she loved first, so that she would suffer that much more before she died.”


During the trial, some of Irsan’s family testified they lived in fear of daily beatings, including with a length of garden hose and “sticks” like Irsan’s cane and 2-by-4 boards. Two of his sons said that was not true.

One of Irsan’s daughters also testified that he cheered the 9/11 attacks on America and praised Osama bin Laden, and told his children they should volunteer to become suicide bombers.

For eight weeks, prosecutors put on evidence that Irsan had been a violent offender with a history of money grubbing schemes since coming to America in 1979.

“He will lie, cheat, steal manipulate, abuse, torture, stalk and kill to get what he wants,” Emmons said during closing arguments.

She pointed to allegations that he raped his first wife, a blind woman he met in Iowa, then manipulated her into marriage. There were also allegations that he raped his oldest daughter and tried to kill her because she married a man Irsan did not approve of in 1999.

Special prosecutor Marie Primm weaved together more than 20 years of Irsan’s bad acts to sway jurors against letting Irsan serve life without parole in general population in prison.

She reminded the jury that Irsan also killed a different son-in-law in 1999.

Irsan testified that it was in self-defense. Other family members said he blasted Amjad Alidam in the chest with a shotgun because he did not approve of Alidam’s marriage to his oldest daughter, then planted a pistol on the body.


In 2015, Irsan, his wife and another daughter were sentenced to federal prison for defrauding the Social Security system, one of several schemes revealed during the trial that showed how Irsan financed trips back to Jordan and purchases of properties he acquired in Montgomery County.

For example, he apparently often claimed that he lost baggage during flights and was able to obtain reimbursements from airlines for laptops, electronics and lost time. Those claims, prosecutors said, financed each trip.

He also convinced his mosque that he was renting his home and needed help paying rent and for electricity bills. That scam ended when elders at the mosque learned that his “landlord” was really his wife, testimony showed.

Prosecutors showed that he also opened dozens of credit card accounts in different names, including the names of deceased family members, to pay his bills. One such account, opened under his daughter’s name, went unpaid without her knowledge ruining her credit, testimony showed.

The prosecution was also able to show that he bilked thousands of dollars out of large corporations by claiming slip and falls in big department stores, or by faking injuries and then threatening lawsuits for product liability.

In addition to those scams, he also got food stamps, Medicaid and took advantage of other social safety nets by forcing family members to fake mental illness to receive disability payments.


{snip} State prosecutors later charged Irsan and his son, Nasim Irsan, 24, with capital murder. His trial is scheduled for next year.