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Lawyer: Client hid mother’s body but didn’t kill her

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SAN DIEGO -- A Serra Mesa woman killed her 79-year-old mother then dumped her body in a remote part of San Diego County where it wouldn't be found for nine days, a prosecutor said Monday, but a defense attorney told jurors the death could have been an accident.

Ghazal Jessica Mansury

Ghazal Jessica Mansury

Ghazal Jessica Mansury, 43, is charged with murder in the September 2013 death of Mehria Mansury.

Jurors began deliberating Monday afternoon.

In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood urged the jury to reject the defendant's claim that she got home from work on Sept. 23, 2013, and found her mother dead. A deputy medical examiner could not determine a cause of death because of insect and wild animal damage at the dump site, but did rule it a homicide, Greenwood said.

The prosecutor said Mansury lied to friends and family by telling them her mother went missing and that she didn't know where the older woman was. Mansury also lied about how her mother died, according to the prosecutor.

“She (the defendant) had woven a web of deceit,'' Greenwood told the jury.

“Family members knew it in their hearts they knew Ghazal was lying, they knew something sinister had happened to their precious aunt,” said Greenwood. “That’s why they kept pursuing Ghazal.”

He said Mansury was angry at her mother for various reasons, and called the victim a “bitch'' for getting rid of her dog. Greenwood told the jury there was a “pushing match'' and “blood-letting'' incident before the murder, and Mansury did not want her mother going to a doctor's appointment the next day, so she strangled the older woman with a bicycle tire inner tube.

MehraMansury

Mehria Mansury

An officer who went to the Amulet Street home on Sept. 24, 2013, was struck by the smell of bleach coming from a bathroom, Greenwood said. Days after the victim went missing, Mansury told a friend that she killed her mother and dumped the body, Greenwood told the jury.

“[The friend] said Ghazal told me she had dumped her mother’s body near Lakeside,” Greenwood told jurors.

That friend ultimately told her ex-husband what the defendant had told her, and he called Crimestoppers. Mansury was later arrested and her mother's body was discovered Oct. 2.

“Can we be criminally judged and criminally convicted based on what Patricia Stahl has to say, is that possible,” said Brian Dooley, attorney.

Defense attorney Brian Dooley questioned the testimony of that witness. He argued that even though his client admitted dumping her mother's body, there was no evidence that she killed her.

“There are no witnesses to prove it wasn’t an accident, not one. There’s no forensics that it was an accident, not one,’ said Dooley. “The medical examiner does not know – no one knows how she died.”

After her arrest, Mansury told her pastor that her mother's death was an accident, Dooley told the jury.

Should jurors find that Mansury killed her mother, they should find that the killing was not willful and premeditated, Dooley argued. Mansury faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

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