Honor Killing Murder Trial in Home Stretch as Lead Detective Hangs Tough On Stand
Assistant public defender Jeffrey Kirchler tried to suggest at Faleh Almaleki's murder trial yesterday that the lead detective in the case invented the "honor killing" angle that turned this Maricopa County case into an international sensation.
Defense attorney Kirchler attempted to show jurors that it was the detective, not the Iraqi-born defendant, who first raised the notion that the motive for the attack by motor vehicle against Noor and Amal Khalaf was rooted in the violent ancient custom of killing allegedly wayward female family members who "shame" the family in some fashion.
"I was trying to figure out why he did what he did," Detective Boughey explained.
On redirect examination, prosecutor Laura Reckart asked Boughey if Faleh Almaleki ever had said during the two-hour interrogation that the fatal incident at a state government parking lot was an accident.
"Never," the detective replied.
Almaleki told the Peoria officers that if he had wanted to kill someone, he would have gotten a knife or a gun. Boughey noted that he responded by saying that maybe Almaleki's only available weapon at that moment had been his Jeep Cherokee.
Reckart asked Boughey if the defendant had expressed worry about his first-born, Noor, who at the time was lying in a coma at a Glendale hospital.
"Zero," the detective said.
Did he express any remorse?
In response to another question, Boughey said he raised the "honor killing" idea after studying prior police reports involving Faleh Almaleki and his estranged 20-year-old daughter in which "honor" came up.
The detective confirmed a secretly tape-recorded jailhouse statement that Almaleki made to his wife Seham after his return to Arizona in early November 2009.
Almaleki said then, "An Iraqi without honor is worth nothing."
The defense is scheduled to start its case in Judge Roland Steinle's courtroom on Monday morning. Almaleki's attorneys have not said if they plan to have the defendant testify in his own behalf.
That usually proves to be a bad idea, as it affords experienced prosecutors like Reckart a rare opportunity to swing at a defendant's account as if he or she was a pinata were swinging from a tree branch.
The evidence of first-degree murder (of Noor Almaleki) and attempted murder (of Amal Khalaf) in this case seems strong. And even if the jury comes back with a guilty verdict on a lesser murder charge (say second-degree or even manslaughter), Faleh Almaleki is looking at spending most, if not all of the rest of his life locked up in prison.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.