Dallas

Testimony on Day 4 of Yaser Said trial shares graphic details in teen girls’ murder

Testimony on Friday also included details about how Said’s family allegedly helped him evade capture for years.

IRVING, Texas — *Warning: Some details in the story may be disturbing to some readers.* 

Testimony Friday detailed how members of Yaser Said’s family helped him evade capture for years.

Said disappeared on New Year’s Day in 2008, the same night his daughters Amina and Sarah Said were found shot to death in a cab he’d borrowed.

Picking through trash and following members of Said’s family, agents finally got the lead that led to Said’s capture 12 years after their deaths.

Agents took him into custody at a Justin home owned by Said’s nieces.

But first authorities came close to catching Said three years earlier.

FBI Agent Daniel Gimenez testified that authorities found out that Islam Said, Yaser’s son, had rented a Bedford apartment. Gimenez said agents asked the manager to call if there were any tips to Said’s whereabouts.

Jorge Camacho, a maintenance worker at a Bedford apartment, testified that he went to check a leak in apartment 348 in August 2017.

No one initially answered but a man finally came to the door.

“I told him it was an emergency and to please open the door,” Camacho said.

Camacho said when he got a look at the man’s face, he realized he was of Arabic descent. When he returned, he told his manager about the encounter and she showed him a picture.

“I recognized the photo, and I told her ‘yes that is the person,’” Camacho said.

Camacho said he later saw the same man passing in front of the office and the man’s appearance had changed. The man had shaved off his facial hair, Camacho said.

The apartment manager contacted the FBI, who arrived on scene.

The man was gone by the time the FBI searched the apartment.

Outside the apartment, investigators found a pair of prescription eyeglasses in a rocky flower bed. It appeared that someone had jumped down from the apartment and the eyeglasses had dropped.

Inside the apartment, FBI agents found a driver’s license belonging to Mohsem Said, one of Yaser Said’s brothers. Agents also discovered Islam Said’s passport.

Gimenez testified that DNA kinship testing was conducted using the DNA of Sarah and Amina, as well as their mother, and it was determined that Yaser Said’s DNA was on the eyeglasses.

The agent said that after the sighting of Yaser Said at the apartment, Islam Said stopped using his cell phone.

Yassein Said, his other brother, and two others also showed up the day after the sighting and were upset that a search warrant had been executed on the apartment.

The agent said Yassein Said had obtained power of attorney from Islam Said to clean out the apartment.

Less than a week later, authorities received word that Isalm and another person had crossed the border into Canada, the agent said. Islam Said returned about six months later.

Gimenez testified Yaser Said’s family were kept under surveillance, and at times would confront agents and remained uncooperative.

In 2020, authorities learned that Yassein Said’s daughters owned a house in a rural area in Justin, a town in Denton County.

Authorities spotted Yasseim Said and Islam Said going in and out of the home, as well as buying construction items at Home Depot. Agents decided to put the home under 24-hour video surveillance.  

Agents also observed that someone was inside the home in the evenings.

“There was a shadow that appeared to be a human walking from one side of the window to the next giving us an indication that someone was inside the house,” Gimenez said.

On Aug. 25, 2020, agents spotted the two men removing a bag from the home, drive about 17 miles to a restaurant in Southlake and throw away a small bag of trash. Agents seized the bag and found watermelon rinds, Coke cans and a plastic bag containing 50 or 60 cigarette butts.

“To us, it’s considered tradecraft in concealment,” Gimenez said.

The agent testified that the incident was used as probable cause to obtain a search warrant for the residence. Agents also obtained a criminal complaint charging Islam Said in connection with the 2017 Bedford incident.

That evening, an FBI tactical team went to the home and knocked on the door. “The defendant came out and surrendered and laid prone on the ground and was handcuffed and placed into custody without incident,” Gimenez said.

Agents found receipts from Home Depot, cell phones and an expired passport for Yaser Said inside the home.

A door leading into the garage had been converted into French doors. A room had been built inside the garage and in it, there was a cot and a rug. There was also newly laid cement and tile installed.

Testimony has shown Said was angry that his daughters were dating American boys. Their mother, Patricia Owens, the girls and their boyfriends had fled the state on Christmas Day in 2007. Owens has testified that Yaser Said had threatened Amina with a gun. She also testified Yaser Said begged her to return and that they did so a few days later.

Medical examiners called to testify 

On the night the girls died, Yaser Said said he was taking the girls to eat dinner. Their bodies were found a short time later.

Amy Gruszecki, who conducted Amina’s autopsy, testified she had been shot twice, and that both wounds were fatal.

One bullet tore through her chest and through her right lung. Enough blood filled Amina’s chest cavity to fill three 20-ounce bottles of water, she said.

The other bullet entered her lower chest, traveled through her ribs, stomach and pancreas before becoming lodged in her spinal column.

“It was fatal because she of the bleeding out,” Gruszecki said. “She had lost a lot of blood.”

Janis Townsend-Parchman, who conducted Sarah’s autopsy, detailed the nine gunshot wounds Sarah suffered.  

One of the chest wounds had gunshot particles in it, meaning that the gun was very close when it was fired. That bullet exited the right lung. There was soot in another upper chest wound indicating the gun was even closer. “The soot had been driven inside her body,” she said.

The third bullet entered her left chest, fractured her rib, entered her lungs and exited her shoulder. The fourth bullet went through her liver, stomach, kidney and bruised her lung.

Townsend-Parcham recovered one bullet from her small intestine.  Sarah also had been shot in the left shoulder and her arm.

Prosecutors entered into evidence a brown jacket and tank top Sarah wore that night.

“I see daylight coming through,” Townsend-Parchaman said, looking at the jacket.

“There’s a hole. There’s a hole. There’s a hole. There’s a hole,” said Townsend-Parchman said, identifying the tank top.

Yaser Said looked away as the pictures and wounds his daughters suffered were described.

Defense attorneys continued to question why Irving police investigators immediately honed in on Said as their sole suspect.

Retired Irving police Det. Joe Hennig said all evidence pointed to Said.

First, the girls were found in a cab that Said had borrowed. He was the last person seen leaving with them. Plus, Sarah identified Said as having shot her in her 911 call, Hennig said.

Defense attorneys have contended that police investigators should have looked into the girls’ boyfriends as potential suspects.  

The defense also questioned Hennig about the portrayals in media accounts of the killing as being honor killings.

“There is no such thing as honor killing,” Hennig said. “It’s just murder. That’s another culture’s term for some type of murder… if you shoot and kill someone, there’s no honor to it.”

Said was put on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in December 2014.

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