After listening to three days of testimony, an Alexandria jury needed only three hours to convict Ziad Bechara of first degree murder for killing his wife.
Suzanna Bechara, 38, stumbled to the door of a neighbor to ask for help after being stabbed 10 times by her husband. “Even though she was dying, she kept asking the paramedics to make sure that someone picked up her child,” said S. Randolph Sengel, Alexandria commonwealth’s attorney. “Her thoughts were of her child, and the defendant’s concern, even at the sentencing hearing, was for himself and the impact this has had on him.”
Police were summoned to the Parkfairfax neighborhood of the city at around 5:30 p.m. on July 1. They found Suzanna Bechara at a neighbor’s home, bleeding from her wounds and her husband barricaded in the couple’s two-bedroom condominium.
He remained in the condo for six hours until police fired tear gas inside. They found him suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds. Suzanna Bechara died in surgery that night.
At the trial last week, Ziad Bechara testified that he did not remember the murder. He claimed that he had been abusing prescription painkillers throughout the weekend before the murder and that he simply did not recall what happened. The defense presented testimony from a doctor that showed memory loss could result from abusing such drugs.
“His memory loss was way too convenient,” Sengel said. “He remembered everything that occurred the previous weekend and even up to minutes before the crime. In the end, it didn’t really matter what he remembered because we had plenty of evidence to indicate that he had committed the crime whether he remembered it or not.”
SENGEL PRESENTED evidence that indicated Ziad Bechara’s motive for murdering his wife might have been jealousy. “He listened to a message on his wife’s phone from a co-worker,” Sengel said. “The message was sexually explicit and led the defendant to believe that his wife was having an affair. The defendant even left several messages on his wife’s co-worker’s answering machine, telling him to stay away from his wife and threatening him. We played those messages for the jury and Mr. Bechara clearly identified himself on the tape. He remembered all of that.”
The jury recommended that Bechara be sentenced to 35 years in prison. Judge John Kloch scheduled final sentencing for March 20. He can reduce the sentence that the jury recommended but cannot increase it.
“I am very pleased with the outcome,” Sengel said.