An Iraqi immigrant was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for the murder of his wife in San Diego Superior Court on Monday.
The murder was originally touted as a hate crime by Kassim Alhimidi, 50, but prosecutors later determined through forensic evidence that Alhimidi had planted a note found outside the couple’s home one week before he fatally beat and left his wife Shaima Alawadi, 32, in a pool of blood in their kitchen; she died three days later at a hospital.
The note read, “This is my country, go back to yours, you terrorist.”
Prosecutors believe Alhimidi murdered Alawadi because she wanted to divorce him and move to Texas.
“I swear I am not guilty!” Alhimidi shouted in English upon hearing the his sentencing before yelling in Arabic to his son, according to the Sacramento Bee. Following his sentencing, Alhimidi screamed that he would rather be sentenced to death and donate his organs than go to jail.
The victim’s mother said during a previous hearing in April that “In Iraq, normally if he kills her, he is supposed to be killed in the same way.” She said her son-in-law “deserve[s] to be killed as well.” Alawadi was reportedly buried in Iraq.
The family was living in the suburb of El Cajon at the time of the murder, which is located east of San Diego and is home to the second-largest Iraqi population in the United States, according to the Associated Press.
The Bee writes that “the victim and her Shiite Muslim family left Iraq in the early 1990s after a failed Shiite uprising, living in Saudi Arabian refugee camps before coming to the United States.”
Alhimidi’s 18-year-old daughter Fatima, who the Bee notes is taking care of her two younger sisters (her two brothers are living in Texas), did not attend the sentencing but issued a statement to her father which was read in court. In it she wrote, “what I saw scarred me for life… it disgusts me that you made this look like a hate crime.”
His son Mohammed said he had great difficulty accepting that his father killed his mother, notes the Bee. He said, “the man I looked up to all my life is the reason why she is gone.” Mohammad has tattooed a drawing of a woman in a hijab on his arm in honor of his late mother.