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State, defense rest in case of man accused in 'honor killings'

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – After the defense attorneys asked the judge to declare a mistrial Wednesday morning, Ali Irsan took the stand in his own defense.

His attorney asked for a mistrial after several jurors approached the bailiff Tuesday at the end of court. They indicated their concern about a gesture they said they witnessed by Irsan. The jurors were concerned for the safety of a prosecutor. The judge denied the motion and the trial continued.

On the stand, Irsan said he did not know M.D. Anderson researcher Gelareh Bagherzadeh. He said he did not know what she looked like until he saw her photo on TV after she was killed. Irsan is accused of killing Bagherzadeh, who was friends with his daughter, as well as his son-in-law, Coty Beavers.

During testimony, Irsan recounted his childhood and his numerous trips to Jordan. He said he once fled Jordan to get away from a relative he said molested his daughter. However, Irsan admitted during cross-examination that he later allowed that relative to move into his home in the U.S. and live with his family because he said his daughter had forgiven the relative.

The prosecutor questioned Irsan about what she said were lies after lies in order to get what he wanted. She pointed to his divorce papers that indicated that he claimed he did not have any children during that marriage. He admitted those answers were falsified. The prosecutor also said Irsan lied to immigration authorities in order to get what he wanted. He admitted that he was married to two women at one time.

“In my religion, I can have two wives,” Irsan said.

Prosecutors also pointed out that he met one of those wives when he was in his mid-30s and the girl was only 14, four years older than his oldest child.

Irsan said he repeatedly tried to find and to talk to his daughter, Nesreen after she fled his house to live with Coty Beavers. He said he wanted to tell her that her education was more important than her social life. He said he had previously told her not to let her hormones control her future. While he said he went by the house only a few times, earlier testimony on GPS tracking revealed he had been by Beavers’ home nearly 80 times.

After about five hours on the stand, Irsan finished his testimony.

Around 4:45 p.m., the defense and state rested. Closing arguments are expected Thursday and the case is expected to be in the hands of the jury soon.

Both sides will get 90 minutes to make their case before it goes to the jury.