A Muslim man has been sentenced to death after he shot and killed his Christian son-in-law because he felt that his daughter had disgraced the family by marrying a Christian man.
Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, a Muslim immigrant from Jordan, was found guilty of capital murder last month in the 2012 fatal shootings of his son-in-law, Coty Beavers, and his daughter's best friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, an Iranian women's rights activist.
On Tuesday, the 60-year-old conservative Muslim was sentenced to death by a Texas jury - who deliberated for just 35 minutes - after being convicted in the "honor killings."
According to the Associated Press, Irsan "became enraged" after his daughter, Nesreen Irsan, married Beavers, a 28-year-old Christian, and converted to Christianity. In efforts to "clean his honor," Irsan, his wife, and their son, Nasim, followed Bagherzadeh to her parents' home in January 2012. Nasim Isran then shot the young woman, who had encouraged the marriage, in her car.
Eleven months later, Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan broke into Beavers' unlocked apartment near Houston, waited for his daughter to leave for work, then shot his son-in-law, according to his wife, Shmou Alrawabdeh, who testified as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
At trial, Irsan, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, told jurors that he wasn't involved in the deaths and claimed his daughter had caused his family pain by marrying Beavers.
However, Alrawabdeh told jurors that her husband had also planned to kill his daughter. Additionally, Nesreen Irsan had filed an order of protection against Irsan, who shot and killed another son-in-law in Houston nearly 15 years ago.
Prior to the sentencing, Irsan reportedly shouted that prosecutors in his case were "devils" and "evil."
"Those prosecutors are devils," he told a bailiff in a raised voice. "They want my life. I need to defend myself. The prosecutors are evil."
Alrawabdeh was also charged in the case, but she pleaded guilty to a lesser kidnapping charge in exchange for testifying against Irsan. Nasim Irsan, 24, is being held in Harris County jail on capital murder charges in the two slayings.
The United Nations estimates there are about 5,000 honor killings worldwide each year, most of them in Islamic regions of South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. However, such crimes are widely suspected to be underreported.
While these killings do occur in the U.S., there is no reliable summary of honor killings in the country due to inadequate tracking systems that fail to collect necessary information on homicides.
The killings are usually carried out by Muslims or Hindus who feel that their siblings have dishonored their family and religion. The average age of an honor killing victim is 23 and women make up 93% of those killed, according to reports.
In 2016, a Muslim man in Pakistan shot and killed his 18-year-old sister because he felt that she had disgraced the family by marrying a Christian man.