Judge Steinle took more than a half-hour to impose sentence, telling Almaleki that his "was the most difficult case I've had to sentence in my six years on the bench."

He said it had troubled him "from day one that the press gave [the case] a moniker. It was the 'honor killing,' and it bothered me . . . I cannot believe that a religion would allow [someone] to kill other human beings."

Steinle said the crimes had nothing to do with religion and that, more accurately, was about a defendant who apparently believed, "'I brought [Noor] into the world, she's my property, and I will take her out of the world.'"

Noor Almaleki at her 20th birthday party in February 2009.
Noor Almaleki at her 20th birthday party in February 2009.
Faleh Almaleki.
Faleh Almaleki.

Becoming more emotional as he continued, the judge quoted the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, the Sufi Poets, and other luminaries.

His point was that, at the core of all the great religions, are the concepts of compassion, understanding, and patience.

He told Almaleki about Gandhi's famous characterization of certain Christians and their hypocrisy.

Steinle stated, "Gandhi said, 'I like your Christ. You Christians are so unlike your Christ.' This case has to do with one man, his narcissism, his inability to forgive."

Struggling to keep his composure, the judge recalled the "haunting look in Noor's eyes" that he saw in photographs during the trial.

That expression told Steinle that "at 20 years of age, she sensed her life would be short. Noor had no future because the defendant could not forgive her."

The judge spoke of Faleh Almaleki's own life, which included a five-year prison term in Iraq after he supposedly spoke ill of the dictator Saddam Hussein.

"To me, he became Saddam Hussein in Phoenix," Steinle said. "He became the man he fled from."

The judge continued, "You may never forgive your daughter for what she did but, right now, my guess is that she's pleading with God to spare you. My wrath will be nothing compared with the wrath of God, unless you ask for forgiveness."

Steinle concluded with what sounded almost like an aside yet hit home for many in attendance.

"It's just a mean old man killing his child," the judge said, a few minutes before authorities led Faleh Almaleki out of the courtroom and back to a jail cell.

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