A jury sentenced 60-year-old Jordanian immigrant Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan to the death penalty on Tuesday afternoon for “honor-killing” his son-in-law and daughter’s close friend.
Irsan was convicted of shooting and killing his daughter Nesreen’s husband, 28-year-old Coty Beavers, and her friend, 30-year-old Gelareh Bagherzadeh, because the two influenced Nesreen to convert to Christianity.
Police say Irsan ordered his son Nasim to shoot Bagherzadeh, an Iranian women’s rights activist, and that Nasim is now awaiting trial for capital murder.
According to the Houston Chronicle, “the husband and a close friend of Irsan’s daughter, Nesreen, were only the first two slated to die for helping her run away from her home in a rural Montgomery County compound and converting to Christianity.”
Irsan ultimately planned to kill five people total, including his daughter.
Prosecutors showed crime scene photos of another son-in-law who died, claiming Irsan got away with another murder years ago by claiming self-defense.
In addition, prosecutors claim the defendant, “beat and in some instances even raped his wife and kids, scammed money and continues to wreak havoc behind bars by building a shank and having two of his sons smuggle drugs into the jail.”
Defense attorneys argued Irsan’s background should be considered and asked, “How can you sentence a person to death if you don’t understand a person’s culture or background or how they were raised?”
Author and CEO of Gender Innovation Amy Logan, who is an expert in honor killings, said Irsan’s wife and another one of his daughters also helped with the scheme and that prosecutors have filed charges against the co-conspirators.