DALLAS — Yaser Said, once listed as one of the most wanted men in America, has been found guilty of killing his two teenage daughters.
Said's daughters Sarah, 17, and Amina Said, 18, were found dead in 2008, slumped in Said's borrowed taxi as it was parked in front of the Omni Hotel in Irving. The girls died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Their deaths been described as so-called "honor killings" -- because they believed Said was upset that his daughters had been dating outside the Muslim faith. In her final moments, Said's younger daughter Sarah managed to call 911 and identify her father as the shooter.
In the wake of his daughters' death, Said hid from authorities as they sought to arrest him. He eluded law enforcement for 12 years, and eventually ended up on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list. He was later found at a home in Justin, Texas, just 30 miles from where Sarah and Amina were killed.
Upon detaining Said in 2020, the FBI also arrested his son and brother on charges of harboring a fugitive. Each of those men has since been convicted and sentenced to more than a decade in prison.
Yaser, by all accounts and even his own, was the last person known to have seen the girls alive that day.
"All signs always pointed to Yaser Said. Period," prosecutor Lauren Black told jurors during closing arguments. "And we have an eye witness to the crime. sarah said tells you who her killer is.
Black replayed Sarah's 911 for jurors, where she says her dad shot her. Their mother, Patricia, became visibly emotional.
"She’s screaming out from the grave," Black said. "He’s here. He did it."
Black reminded jurors about the email Amina wrote on Dec. 21, just days her death. Amina told her teacher that she and her sister were running away because they feared their father.
"He has simply made our lives a nightmare," the email said. "...I know that he will search til he finds us and he without any drama or any doubt kill us."
At the end of six days in the capital murder trial, jurors deliberated for about three hours before returning their guilty verdict Tuesday afternoon.
Over the course of the trial, prosecutors painted a picture of Said as a jealous and angry man who controlled his daughters' lives. They detailed the brutal nature with which his daughters were murdered, and they described it in graphic detail.
Said's attorneys, meanwhile, only called one witness to testify: Said himself.
Throughout his testimony, Said -- aided by a translator -- denied that he killed his daughters, saying that he loved them, claiming that he feared for his own safety the night they were killed. He said they were alive and well when they left them in the taxi.
He said he was the victim of a media smear campaign that was all too eager to paint him as a killer.
“He is asking you to suspend all common sense, all reality to believe that story,” prosecutor Brandi Mitchell told jurors. “It was so absurd. It is insulting to the memory of Amina and Sarah Said.”
Mitchell told jurors that Said couldn’t explain why someone would want to hurt him. She said it didn’t make sense that he would leave his two girls in the cab with his phone and his gun.
“Does that seem reasonable?” Mitchell said.
Throughout the trial and in closing arguments, Said’s attorneys attacked the investigation itself. They questioned, among other things, why police didn’t take fingerprints from the car, why gunshot residue wasn’t taken from the girl’s boyfriends and why written statements weren’t taken from the boyfriends.
Said’s attorneys have implied that Sarah could have been suffering from a rare condition that causes auditory and visual hallucinations when she made that 911 call pointing the finger at her father.
“This is insulting to the memory of Amina and Sarah,” defense attorney Joe Patton said. “The police insulted their memory.”
Defense attorney Bahranan Muse told jurors that prosecutors and investigators had based their case “on prejudice and ignorance.” Yaser, she said, was a conservative father who sought to protect his daughters and was not an abuser.
“Discipline does not mean you murdered your children,” Muse said. “Your culture does not mean you murdered your children.”
After the verdict, Said's former wife, Patricia Owens, took the stand to give a victim's act statement.
She told him because of his actions Amina and Sarah never went to prom, graduated from high school or became doctors as they had dreamed of doing.
"They were very smart intelligent and bright and did not have an enemy in the world, their father, the devil, that killed them," she said, holding up pictures of the girls as she spoke to him.
She told Said that not only had he killed his daughters, he had "brainwashed" their son who is now in prison for helping to hide him.
Said became visibly angry as she spoke. The judge admonished his attorneys to keep their client quit.
"You can keep those evil eyes on me as long as you want, but you will never break me down again nor will you ever be able to hurt another person," Owens told him.
She told him she hopes he suffers just the way their daughters did.
"At this time, you are nothing. You are a prisoner. You are a murderer and the devil," she said.
Said's former sister-in-law, Connie Moggio, who had spoke to Amina on the day she died, also addressed Said.
"There is no honor in killing two unarmed people. I call that being a coward," she said. "The only thing you did to your family was stain it with your family's blood. Now it is your turn to get what you gave, a prison you call home."
Prosecutors did not seek out the death penalty in this capital murder case; with this conviction, Said is automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole.