Casting Doubt on Aug. 15, 2001

Casting Doubt on Aug. 15, 2001

Defense attorney presents opening arguments

When defense attorney Peter Davis told the jury that Zakaria Oweiss is a grieving husband, "who still loves her today — grieves for her today," Oweiss wailed for a loud moment in his seat at the defense table in the Rockville Circuit Courtroom.

After a momentary pause in his defense attorney's opening arguments, Oweiss wiped his eyes and went back to taking notes during his trial.

The trial of Zakaria Oweiss, who is charged with the first-degree murder of his wife Marianne Oweiss, 49, began last Friday, Feb. 21, one year after his original trial date and more than 18 months after he was charged with his wife's murder in August of 2001.

The trial was continued three times — the original trial date last February, last May when Oweiss changed attorneys, and last October when road blocks during the sniper investigation interrupted jury selection.

While the prosecution says the case is quite clear, Davis contends that what happened that morning, leading to the death of Marianne Oweiss, might never be known.

"I have no idea what happened on Aug. 15, 2001. I wasn't there," said Davis, to the jury in his opening statements. "After hearing the evidence, I suspect by the end of this case, you won't know what happened on Aug. 15, 2001."

DAVIS BROUGHT out several details designed to give the jury a reasonable doubt.

"Somewhere around 8:52, there is a 911 transmission: 'domestic violence in progress between a mother and a son and they are still fighting,'" Davis said.

He assailed Omar’s credibility over several contradictions between what he told investigators in the hours, days and months after the murder and his current testimony. For instance, Omar made no mention of a hammer or that his uncle retrieved his father's Red Jetta a few days after Aug. 15, 2001.

Davis asserts that police saw blood on Omar's shorts, when they arrived on the scene.

When the shorts were evaluated, however, the results were different. "Miraculously, no evidence of blood," said Davis.

Davis also said police found no evidence of blood in Marianne Oweiss' Jeep, even though the prosecution says Zakaria Oweiss, with many blood stains on his shirt and pants, drove away in the Jeep to discard the weapon.

"As late as early this week, evidence will show that Omar has told at least one person, 'I have lied,'" Davis said.

Omar and Amin, "the evidence will show, would be the most interested persons — the most defined beneficiaries of their mother's estate," Davis said.

"Evidence will show that someone inflicting the blows would have to have been above her," Davis said. While Zakaria Oweiss was considerably shorter than his 5-foot-9 wife, he intimated that Omar, at 6-foot-3, is tall enough to have been in that position.

Zakaria Oweiss might have returned to the house to help his son, Davis said.

"What was it that prompted [Dr. Oweiss] to go back to the house that day? It certainly wasn't his intention to kill his wife," said Davis.