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Votes

Defense Sought to Create Doubt

Peter Davis, Zakaria Oweiss’ defense attorney, asked members of the jury to stay focused with him.

“I’m going to stay with Omar like a junkyard dog. I think that’s where you should be focused,” said Davis, of Omar Oweiss in closing arguments last Friday, March 7.

Davis reminded members of the jury of the oath they took before serving on this case, that each one of them pledged to be sincere, attentive and truthful. He thanked the jury for their service and for honoring that oath.

“There is no more important function in life than to take an oath and obey that oath,” said Davis.

OMAR OWEISS lied under oath, said Davis. He lied when he met with prosecutors and detectives just after his mother’s murder, since he didn’t tell them about the hammer.

He now says just after he discovered his mother’s body, he found his father just outside holding a hammer. Omar didn’t tell police about the hammer until eight days later and no murder weapon was ever found.

Omar said nothing for a year about his uncle retrieving his father’s red Jetta from the family’s rental property in Bethesda on the Saturday after the murder. He initially said both he and his uncle picked up the car. The location of Zakaria Oweiss’ car is one of the unanswered questions in the trial.

“If it bothers you that somebody lied under oath, that somebody perjured himself, you take it under consideration,” said Davis.

DAVIS ALSO reminded the jury that a defendant is assumed innocent until proven guilty.

“The presumption of innocence is incredibly important. Hold onto that presumption, hug it, stay with it,” said Davis. It is the state’s burden to prove that his client is guilty.

“If they have lack of evidence, don’t hold it against them, just render a verdict of not guilty,” he said.

Davis’ strategy was clear. Question, attack, and discredit Omar’s credibility to the point that there would be a reasonable doubt in the minds of jury members as to the veracity of Omar’s testimony against his father. Davis sought to raise suspicion about Omar’s possible involvement in the crime.

“It is not a ploy to point the blame on Omar Oweiss in this case. He is at the crime scene on the morning of Aug. 15, 2001. They’re pointing fingers on my client because he is there on the morning of Aug. 15, 2001.

“It is our evidence that Omar is responsible for his mother’s death,” said Davis.

HIS CLIENT, Zakaria Oweiss, was alone in the house with the victim the night before her murder, without incident, Davis said. Marianne Oweiss was killed on the day after she returned from Egypt, after Zakaria Oweiss discovered she was having an affair.

“If he was going to kill her, that would have been the opportunity. He left the situation, left the country, told Omar he was going to get a divorce,” said Davis.

Davis gave jurors an alternate account of Marianne’s death, a version that described a possible struggle between Omar and his mother. Omar and his brother would inherit their mother’s money, he said.

“Zakaria Oweiss loved Marianne with such capacity, he would tear down mountains for her. Would he come home if he felt Marianne was in trouble, if Omar was in trouble?”

Davis suggested that Omar’s girlfriend Claudia was involved, too.

“There is no case without Omar,” said Davis.

Other factors Davis asked the jurors to consider:

* No murder weapon was ever found. “They don’t know what it is,” said Davis.

* Why didn’t police check to determine what fingerprints were on the banister leading down the stairs where Marianne was found?

* Why didn’t Zakaria Oweiss have any of Marianne’s hairs on him if he had killed her?

* Why weren’t Omar’s clothes tested more fully for blood? Why weren’t the drains in the house tested for blood?

* Couldn’t blood spatter found on Zakaria’s clothes be from blood spattered while rescue workers attended to Marianne, or someone’s plastic gloves on the crime scene?

* Why wasn’t a rock found on the desk near Marianne’s body tested more thoroughly?

* Why did Omar put his arm around his father at the police station the morning of Aug. 15 when they were all questioned. “Is that the act of a son who believed his father just killed his mother?” said Davis.

“When it is all over, I’m asking you collectively and unanimously to agree with me that there is insufficient evidence to charge him with first degree murder,” said Davis. “My client didn’t commit this crime.

“Let him go on… let him pick up with his life.”