Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan, 45, was convicted of second degree murder, Feb. 7, 2011, in the death of his wife Asiya Zubair Hassan who had filed for divorce just one week before her untimely death. The jury deliberated for just one hour after being handed the three-week long trial. The case generated interest because of the brutality of the crime and because of who the couple were.
On February 12, 2009 Muzzammil “Mo” Hassan stabbed his wife some 40 times before decapitating her in their Bridges TV studio located in Orchard Park NY. Hassan was the chief executive officer of the network and his wife, Asiya Zubair Hassan, was the general manager. Bridges TV was started in 1994 by Hassan and his wife in hopes of dispelling the negative image of Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. It was billed as the first English-language cable channel aimed at Muslims in the United States. The irony is of course how someone who wished to promote interfaith acceptance and tolerance could be involved in such a brutal crime.
According to reports, Hassan was having marital problems and had moved out of the house he shared with his wife and children. On the day of her death, Hassan had asked his wife of nine years to bring some of his clothes over to the TV studio. He had promised her he would not be there.....but he was.
"The defendant viciously killed ... and desecrated her (Aasiya's) body because six days earlier she had dared to file for divorce. Dared to seek a better life for herself and the children," Assistant District Attorney Paul Bonanno said in the prosecution's opening statement.
On Feb. 12, 2009, after killing his wife, Hassan went to the Orchard Park Police headquarters and told police what he had done. He was arrested and has been incarcerated ever since.
During the trial, which had been posponed several times in the ensuing two years, the prosecution said that Asiya Zubair Hassan had filed for divorce because of a history of physical and psychological abuse she had suffered at the hands of her husband. She had filed numerous complaints with the police but had failed to press any charges. She accused him of causing her to have a miscarriage four years ago by dragging her and sitting on her.
She also accused him of "flaunting another woman in her face". Just two days before her death she sent an email to this woman telling her how abusive her husband had been, providing photos of her battered face and destroyed belongings.
Asiya Hassan had tried to leave her husband before, fleeing to South Africa - where she underwent surgery for injuries suffered at his hands - and her native Pakistan but eventually returned to her husband, fearing he would find her no matter where she went.
At the trial Muzzammil Hassan's two adult children, Michael and Sonia Hassan, from a previous marriage also testified for the prosecution against their father. On the day of the murder they were both outside the studio where their step mother was killed, waiting for her in a car. See the video below.
In his defense Muzzammil Hassan tried to cast himself in the role of an abused husband. After gaining permission from the judge, he acted as his own attorney. He claimed that his side of the story was never heard and he was being judged "guilty until proven innocent". In a two-hour summation he explained that he was the victim and merely killed his wife in self defense. Showing just how much he did not see himself as a defendant in a murder trial, he ended with the words: "I don't blame my wife". See a portion of his summation below. For more click here.
The Prosecutor, Curtin Gable, started the summation by saying:
"Self defense? Not a chance, not even close....this is intentional murder, plain and simple. Beyond a reasonable doubt, quite frankly beyond any doubt. The evidence is crystal clear and when you focus on the credible and relevant evidence your verdict will be clear as well."
After the two sides had concluded it was the jury's time. They spoke loud and clear. The did not waste any time in coming to their decision. In less than one hour they returned a verdict of guilty.