EL CAJON (CNS) - An Iraqi man accused of fatally beating his wife in their El Cajon home last year after she asked for a divorce must stand trial on a murder charge, a judge ruled Friday.
Kassim Alhimidi, 49, was arrested Nov. 8 by El Cajon police in what was first thought to be a hate crime. His wife, 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, was found mortally injured with at least six head wounds in their Skyview Street residence on March 21, 2012.
First-responders found a note in the home that read, "This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist."
The couple's 18-year-old daughter, Fatima, testified that a similar threatening note was found in the family's home on March 13, 2012, eight days before her mother was attacked.
The daughter testified Thursday that her parents started having problems in August 2011. She said her mother -- a homemaker -- wanted to divorce her father and move to Texas, where her family lived.
The young woman testified that her father laughed at her mother when she showed him court papers needed to file for a divorce. She testified that her mother would get angry when her father wouldn't listen to her pleas for a divorce.
The witness said she was home on March 21, 2012, when she heard what she thought was a short "squeal" from her mother. She said she stayed in bed but eventually went to the kitchen to get something to eat, and saw her injured mother on the kitchen floor and called 911.
"I was in shock," the daughter testified. "I was so scared I couldn't even look at her."
The mother of five died of head injuries in a hospital three days later.
Alhimidi -- who sold dates to grocery stores -- sobbed in court as his daughter described finding her mother's body.
Alhimidi told police he took his four younger children to school about 7:30 a.m. the day of the attack, came home, then went for a drive around 9:30 a.m.
Fatima testified that it would be unusual for her father to go for a random drive because he was constantly complaining about the price of gas.
From the outset of their investigation into the slaying, police said they considered ethnic animosity only one of the possible motives. Authorities eventually arrested Alhimidi and charged him with domestic-violence murder.
He and his wife left Iraq in 1991 to avoid running afoul of dictator Saddam Hussein.
Following a preliminary hearing which stretched into a second day, El Cajon Judge Lantz Lewis ruled that enough evidence was presented for the defendant to proceed to trial.
Alhimidi faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted. A Superior Court arraignment is set for Aug. 8.