EL CAJON, Calif. – The husband of an Iraqi woman who was found beaten to death in their East County home last spring plead not guilty to charges of murder Tuesday afternoon.
Initially, the death of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, a homemaker and mother of five, was called a hate crime, but on Thursday El Cajon Police arrested 48-year-old Kassim Alhimidi.
“Not guilty…not guilty,” Alhimidi said during his video arraignment Tuesday. Alhimidi denied all charges against him, including two charges of murder and use of a deadly and dangerous weapon.
“He’s charged with murder. The jury determines whether it’s a first or second degree murder,” said Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals.
It’s been eight months since Alawadi was found beaten to death in the couple’s Skyview Street home on March 21. Police said a threatening note had been left very close to her body. While investigators did not divulge the contents of the message, family members say it said “Go back to your country, you terrorist.”
The couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, said her mother had been bludgeoned with a tire iron.
“So many months after the murder suggests that this was a thorough and long investigation, “ said Mechals. “The investigation has led to the conclusion that this was a domestic violence murder and not a hate crime.”
Following Alawadi’s murder, a search warrant revealed she was planning on divorcing Kassim and move with her kids to Texas. Detectives found divorce papers in her car.
“My wife and his wife they do a lot of shopping together,” said Qasim Alasady, a family friend for 18 years. He told Fox 5, the couple never showed any signs of trouble.
“Never, I know the lady, I didn’t even notice anything between them never,” said Alasady.
He said in the Iraqi culture, divorces are a dishonor.
“We don’t have that much in our community,” said Alasady. “I mean it’s kind of a shame to get a divorce after like 15 years, 18 years, kids, family, all this time. A divorce just like that for no reason? No.”
If convicted, Alhimidi faces 25 years to life in prison and an addition year for the charge of using a deadly weapon.
He is being held without bond considering he is a flight risk.
He will return to court November 28 for the preliminary hearing.