DALLAS (AP) — A man accused of fatally shooting his two teenage daughters in a taxi in the Dallas area in 2008 told jurors in his capital murder trial on Monday that he fled the vehicle before they were killed because he thought someone wanted to kill him.
“Definitely not, I did not kill my daughters,” said Yaser Said, whose testimony in Arabic was translated to English.
Said evaded arrest for over 12 years following the slayings of his daughters, 18-year-old Amina Said and 17-year-old Sarah Said. Yaser Said, who faces an automatic life sentence if convicted, said he did not turn himself in because he didn't think he would get a fair trial.
The prosecution and defense both rested their cases Monday afternoon. Jurors are set to hear closing arguments Tuesday morning.
Said, 65, worked as a taxi driver, and a former police detective has testified that the taxi the sisters' bodies were found in on New Year's Day in 2008 near a hotel in had been lent to Said.
Sarah Said was shot nine times and Amina Said was shot twice.
In a letter written to the judge overseeing the case, Said had said he was not happy with his kids’ “dating activity” but denied killing his daughters.
Said told jurors that the evening the sisters' were killed, he was taking them to dinner because he wanted to “solve the problem” after they had left home a week earlier, going to Oklahoma with their mother and their boyfriends.
“I was upset because in my culture it’s something to get upset about,” said Said, who testified that he was born in Egypt, came to the U.S. in 1983 and later became a U.S. citizen.
Prosecutor Lauren Black said during opening statements that the sisters had become “very scared for their lives,” and the decision to leave was made after Said “put a gun to Amina’s head and threatened to kill her.” Black told jurors that Said was “obsessed with possession and control.”
Said's former wife, Patricia Owens, has testified that Said eventually had convinced her to return to Texas from Oklahoma.
Said testified that as he was driving to dinner with his daughters on the evening they were killed, he thought someone was following the taxi. He said he did not know who it might be but assumed it might be friends of his daughters. He testified that he was fearful someone would harm him, so he left his daughters in the taxi and ran into nearby woods.
“I did not expect anyone would harm them,” Said testified.
Jurors heard a 911 call Sarah Said made by cell phone, telling the operator that her father shot her and that she was dying.
Defense attorney Joseph Patton said in opening statements that the evidence would not support a conviction and that police were too quick to focus on Said. He also said that in moments of extreme trauma, like being shot multiple times, people can have hallucinations.
Amina Said’s boyfriend has testified that the evening she and her sister were killed, he and his father saw them riding in the taxi with their father.
Yaser Said, who had been sought on a capital murder warrant since the slayings, was placed on the FBI's most-wanted list. He was finally arrested in August 2020 in Justin, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of Dallas. His son, Islam Said, and his brother, Yassim Said, were subsequently convicted of helping him evade arrest.