An Iraqi immigrant was found guilty of second degree murder today for running over his daughter, a crime motivated, prosecutors said, by the Arizona Muslim man's belief that the 20-year-old woman had become "too Westernized."
Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 48, was also convicted of aggravated assault, because the mother of his daughter's boyfriend was also injured when he ran down the two women with his Jeep Cherokee in a suburban Phoenix parking lot in the October 2009 incident.
Almaleki, who fled immediately after the incident, driving to Nogales, Mexico, was also convicted of two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.
The Iraqi man's lawyer had argued that he never intended to hit his daughter, Noor Almaleki, or 43-year-old Amal Khalef, with whose family the young woman was living at the time because of her disagreements with her father.
"I'm not trying to kill my daughter," Faleh Hassan Almaleki told investigators, according to tapes that were played during the trial. "If anything happened, accident."
Almaleki insisted to police that he loved his daughter, but he lost control of the vehicle and it was an accident.
"I run away because I've been waiting for my daughter, because if something happen to her, I kill myself," Almaleki said in the tape played at the trial.
"My daughter, she passed away, I kill myself," the man said. "That's what I've been waiting for."
But while he maintained that he didn't mean to kill her, he did tell the officers questioning him that he wanted to scare his daughter and maybe even hurt her when he drove the Cherokee at her.
According to prosecutors, Almaleki and his daughter fought over her adoption of Western ways, including her decision to attend college, her rejection of an arranged marriage and her chosing a boyfriend her parents did not approve of.
"It occurred because [of] her not following traditional family values. We've been told that by everybody," Peoria Police spokesman Mike Tellef told ABCNews.com at the time of the incident. "He felt she was becoming too Westernized, and he didn't like that."
Tellef said Almaleki fled to Mexico after the incident and abandoned the Jeep Cherokee in Nogales, where police there eventually found and seized it.
He then made his way to Mexico City, where he boarded a plane to London, but U.K. authorities refused to allow him into the country. After U.S. officials were contacted, he was put on a plane back to the United States, the Peoria police said.
Almaleki was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Atlanta when he arrived at the airport there.
Noor Almaleki had backed out of an arranged marriage about a year before the attack, police learned, and had been living with Khalaf and her son in a nearby town.
Tellef said the young woman dressed in American clothing and was wearing typical Western attire when she was struck.
The family were all American citizens, though Tellef said he believes the parents were born in Iraq.