HOUSTON, Texas — A Muslim man who had immigrated to America from Jordan has been sentenced to death by a jury after engaging in two “honor killings” in allegedly being enraged that his daughter had shamed the family by converting to Christianity and marrying a Christian.
Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, 60, had reportedly plotted to kill five people, including his daughter, after she left home, converted to Christianity and married a Christian man.
According to reports, Irsan told the court that he didn’t have a part in the killings of Coty Beavers, 28, and his daughter’s best friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30. However, he admitted that his daughter, Nesreen Irsan, had caused his family pain by marrying Beavers.
Nesreen testified that her father forbade her from dating Christians, and when she moved out of the home to marry Beavers, she obtained a protective order to prevent her family from harassing her.
The Houston Press reports, “He did not approve of Nesreen seeing Coty, a Christian. In June 2011, while Irsan and one of his sons were in Jordan, his wife and another daughter found emails and texts between Nesreen and Coty. They quickly notified Irsan, who instructed the women to strip Nesreen of her cell phone and laptop and to make sure she didn’t leave the house.”
“Nesreen would later tell authorities she was held captive in her bedroom for two weeks before she was able to slip out of a bathroom window and flee to Coty’s home.”
According to Houston Public Media, while Irsan admitted that he violated the protective order by driving past his now-married daughter’s home, he contended that he did so because he was concerned his daughter might be on drugs or making bad decisions.
Bagherzadeh, formerly of Iran, was stated to have urged Irsan to put her faith in Christ and encouraged the marriage, which likewise upset Irsan. She was found dead in January 2012, and Beaver was killed 10 months later. It took police three years to locate a suspect in the killings.
The Houston Chronicle outlines that jurors listened to weeks of testimony that included arguments that Irsan had sought to “clean his honor” by committing the murders.
Irsan was upset by the proceedings, reportedly proclaiming as he was being led away, “Those prosecutors are devils. They want my life. I need to defend myself. The prosecutors are evil.”
Several jurors conversely expressed concern for their safety and that of the prosecutors.
Shmou Alrawabdeh, Irsan’s wife, accepted a plea deal, testifying that she was with her husband and their son, Nasim, when both murders were committed. She said that Irsan snuck into Beaver’s apartment and killed him while their daughter was away at work. Alrawabdeh also stated that their daughter was slated to be put to death as well.
She pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated kidnapping in exchange for her testimony. Nasim Irsan is facing a capital murder charge for his part in the killings, and his sister, Nadia, is charged with stalking.
Beaver’s mother and twin brother presented a victim impact statement following the sentencing.
“On November 12, 2012, Ali Irsan and his family destroyed life as we knew it forever,” said Shirley McCormick. “That was the day they ambushed and murdered Coty, to restore honor to someone who never had any.”
“Honor violence typically involves participation of multiple family members,” Cory Beavers also remarked. “We will continue to pray that everyone culpable in these murders are brought to justice.”
Irsan is stated to have previously killed another son-in-law, but was not convicted as he argued that he did so in self-defense.
Luke 9:54-56 reads, “And when His disciples, James and John, saw [the rejection of Jesus by the Samaritans], they said, ‘Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did? But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.'”