Iraqi Immigrant to Stand Trial in Daughter's Death

January 11, 2011 - 2:21 PM

Phoenix (AP) - An Iraqi immigrant accused of killing his daughter because he believed she was too Westernized will go to trial in Phoenix after he failed to reach a plea deal with prosecutors.

Prosecutors and attorneys for Faleh Hassan Almaleki had been in discussions about a plea deal for weeks ahead of a scheduled Jan. 18 trial date. Barring a last-minute deal that appears unlikely, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roland Steinle said at a hearing Tuesday that he would call two large groups of potential jurors next week.

Steinle noted a large pool was needed because of extensive pretrial publicity and the need for jurors to be available to serve on a lengthy case.

Police allege Almaleki slammed his Jeep into his 20-year-old daughter, Noor Almaleki, and her boyfriend's mother in October 2009 in the parking lot of a state Department of Economic Security office in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria.

The mother lived, but Noor was in a coma for two weeks before she died from her injuries.

Almaleki has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and leaving the scene of a serious injury accident.

His public defender and the prosecutor declined to comment after Tuesday's brief hearing.

Almaleki, who turned 50 on Jan. 1, remains in custody. He attended the hearing in shackles in the jury box, wearing a back brace over his faded black and white striped county jail garb and pink undershirt.

After the hearing ended, Almaleki interrupted through an interpreter, saying "I don't know what's going on so far."

Steinle allowed him to confer with his lawyers for a few minutes, then cut off their discussion to move on to the next case.

"You can discuss with him over the next few days what the rules of criminal procedure are in reference to a lawyer appearing," Steinle said.

The case caused nationwide outrage after prosecutors deemed it an "honor killing" because Almaleki had said his daughter dishonored his family and became too Westernized.

Faleh Almaleki moved his family from Iraq to the Phoenix suburb of Glendale in the mid-1990s.

He wanted Noor to adhere to Iraqi traditions, but she wanted to be a typical American girl, according to court records and her close friends.

When she was 17, she refused to enter an arranged marriage in Iraq, enraging her father, according to a court document filed by prosecutors.

She moved into her own apartment at 19 and began working at a fast-food restaurant but quit after her parents kept showing up at her work, insisting she return home, the document said.

Later in 2009, she moved in with her boyfriend and his parents, Reikan and Amal Khalaf, after saying her parents had hit her.

The court document said Faleh Almaleki regularly harassed his daughter and the Khalafs, once telling Reikan Khalaf that if his daughter didn't move out of their home, "something bad was going to happen."

Noor Almaleki spotted her father on Oct. 20, 2009, when she and Amal Khalaf visited a Department of Economic Security office.

When the two women left the office, Faleh Almaleki hit them with his Jeep before fleeing the country, prosecutors said. Law enforcement caught up with him in London and returned him to Phoenix.