Iraqi woman beaten in El Cajon home planning divorce - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Iraqi woman beaten in El Cajon home planning divorce

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EL CAJON, Calif. (AP) — An Iraqi-American woman who was beaten to death in her home was having family issues and planning a divorce, but her brother said he has not drawn any conclusions about the identity of the killer.

"I want people to know what really happened," Hass Alawadi told U-T San Diego. "We hope for the best, hope for it to come out. I hope they found who did it."

The March 21 death of Shaima Alawadi, 32, sparked international outrage and speculation that the killing was a hate crime because of a note found near her body, but she also had a troubled family life, according to sealed court records that inadvertently were released Wednesday to U-T San Diego.

Investigators found blank divorce forms in her Ford Explorer, according to a search warrant affidavit. Records indicated that she planned to leave her husband and move to Texas.

Her brother who lives in Missouri City, Texas, told the newspaper Thursday that his sister's husband had known about the possibility of divorce for a while.

Alawadi's daughter, who called 911, has told reporters that she found a note near her unconscious mother that read: "Go back to your country, you terrorist." Detectives found a torn, handwritten note at the scene but analysis indicated it was a copy, according to an 11-page search warrant.

The affidavit did not mention the note's contents but indicated that investigators wanted to search the house for similar paper stock.

El Cajon police have said the note indicated the possibility of a hate crime, but investigators have stressed they are exploring other possibilities.

Investigators have not identified any suspects. The daughter, Alawadi's husband, Kassim Alhimidi, and a brother traveled to Iraq last week to attend her funeral.

The daughter, 17-year-old Fatima Alhimidi, told police that she was at the family's Lakeside home and heard glass break and her mother squeal but thought it was a dropped plate. She said she found her mother unconscious 10 minutes later.

Alawadi had suffered at least six blows to the head, possibly caused by a tire iron. She died three days later.

A neighbor reported seeing a man carrying a brown box running from the area of Alawadi's house around the time of the attack.

While police were interviewing Alhimidi after the attack, she received a text message reading, "The detective will find out tell them (can't) talk," according to the search warrant affidavit.

The affidavit also indicated that the teenager had been upset about her pending arranged marriage to a cousin and that in November she jumped from her mother's moving car and possibly broke her arm.

Alhimidi said, "'I love you, Mom,' opened the vehicle door and jumped out while the vehicle was doing approximately 35 miles per hour," the documents said. "Police were informed by paramedics and hospital staff that Fatima Alhimidi said she was being forced to marry her cousin and did not want to do so, (so) she jumped out of the vehicle."

Lt. Mark Coit, a police spokesman, said Thursday the department was not commenting on the ongoing investigation in which the FBI is assisting. But he noted authorities were "not happy" the sealed documents were released.

 

This is a story update. The previous story is below.

 

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Search warrants are casting doubt about whether the murder of an Iraqi-American woman was really a hate crime.

Thirty-two-year-old Shaima Alawadi died March 24, three days after she was found brutally beaten in her El Cajon home.

A threatening note found near her body suggested she may have been targeted because of her ethnicity. But court documents obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune revealed Alawadi was planning on divorcing her husband and moving to Texas.

Her daughter was also reportedly upset about an arranged marriage to a cousin.

News 8 spoke with some people at Wednesday night's candlelight vigil at UCSD for hate crime victims about the new revelations.

"It would be great for something like this not to be a hate crime, but of course the woman is still dead so it's still heartbreaking," said UCSD student Melis Okter.

Alawaidi's family members had earlier told police they received another threatening note weeks before the murder, but they did not originally report it to authorities.

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