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Jury finishes first day of deliberations in trial of Iraqi immigrant accused of killing wife


EL CAJON, California — A Southern California jury ended its first full day of deliberations Wednesday in the trial of an Iraqi immigrant charged with beating his wife to death — a killing that police at first suspected was a hate crime.

Jurors met for more than seven hours in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, home to one of the nation's largest Iraqi immigrant communities.

Kassim Alhimidi, 49, of El Cajon is charged with killing his wife, 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi.

Alawadi's eldest daughter, then 17, found her in a pool of blood at their home on March 21, 2012. The woman had been struck at least six times in the head with some kind of blunt object and died two days later.

A note found near the woman read: "This is my country, go back to yours, you terrorist." However, lab tests determined it was a photocopy — possibly of a note found outside the family home a week earlier by one of the couple's five children.

Alhimidi faces 26 years to life in state prison if convicted.

During closing arguments on Tuesday, the defense argued that Alhimidi had no motive for killing his wife because he loved her.

"This man has never once raised a hand to Shaima," attorney Richard Berkon Jr. argued.

However, the prosecution argued that the marriage was troubled and Alawadi had wanted a divorce.

Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals read jurors computer messages that the woman had sent to relatives that said: "I do not love him" and "I cannot stand him."

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