This undated file photo provided by the Irving (Texas) Police Department shows Yaser Abdel Said. Said, who evaded arrest for over 12 years after being accused of fatally shooting his two teen daughters in a taxi parked near a Dallas-area hotel is set to go on trial this week. AP
Amina Said, 18, and Sarah Said, 17, were found dead in a taxi parked near a Dallas-area hotel nearly a week after they and their mother, Said's ex-wife, fled their home in the Dallas suburb of Lewisville to Oklahoma to get away from Said's threats, the prosecutor said Tuesday during his opening statements at the capital murder trial.
The sisters had become “very scared for their lives,” and the decision to leave was made after Said “put a gun to Amina's head and threatened to kill her,” prosecutor Lauren Black added, reported the AP.
The Egyptian-born cab driver came to the US on a student visa in 1983 and lived with his family just north of Dallas, Texas, and evaded arrest for more than 12 years, according to news agencies.
Said spent six years on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list before he was arrested in 2020, nearly 12 years after the accident.
AP reported that Said wrote in a letter to the judge overseeing the case that he was not happy with his kids’ “dating activity” but denied killing his daughters, while prosecutor Black said that he was “obsessed with possession and control.”
“He controlled what they did, who they talked to, who they could be friends with, if they and who they could date," the prosecutor added. "And he controlled everything in his household."
Following his capture, Patricia Owens, mother of the victims and Said’s former wife, said that she does not know the motive behind the murder. "All I can say is there’s going to be justice,” Owens said in remarks to The Dallas Morning News.
In a previous statement reported in 2011 by the same outlet, Owens, who divorced Said in 2009, said that she does not know what drove Said to kill.
Owens said her ex-husband was not religious and that Islam does not condone the killing of innocents, however, she said that he was obsessed with his daughters becoming what he considered "too westernized."
Sarah Said had called 911 the night she was killed and told the operator "I'm dying, I'm dying…" A short time later, the authorities received another call from a man reporting two women unconscious in a car in the parking lot of the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving, Texas.
With multiple gunshot wounds each, the police found the girls dead inside the taxi that their father had driven for the past 10 days as per the taxi's registered owner.
Defense attorney Joseph Patton said in opening statements that the evidence would not support a conviction, explaining that in moments of extreme trauma like being shot multiple times, people can have hallucinations.
The police were too quick to focus on Said, Patton said, suggesting that anti-Muslim sentiments played into that focus, AP's report noted.
The report also cited an email sent from Amina Said to her Lewisville High School history teacher a few days before the crime. The prosecutor read the email in which Amina stated that she and her sister Sarah did not want to live by their father’s culture and marry men from the Middle East, “especially men we don’t know or love.”
“I know that he will search until he finds us, and he will without any drama nor doubt kill us,” the email added.
In 2020, the defendant was found hiding in Justin, Texas, barely 30 miles (48 kilometres) from the scene of the murder.
He had reportedly been sheltered by his son Islam Said, and his brother Yassein Said. The pair were arrested and are serving sentences in federal prison.
Said became a permanent American resident after gaining citizenship in 1997.