Zakaria Oweiss cannot escape Marianne Oweiss’ blood covering him from head to toe on the morning of Aug. 15, 2001, prosecutors said in closing.
“In a way, it is Marianne from the grave who is telling who killed her,” prosecutor Deborah Armstrong said to the jury in closing arguments last Friday, March 7.
DNA tests conducted by expert witness Kristin Koch confirm that blood was found on his shirt, pants, glasses, pager, wedding ring, watch, shoes and cell phone, Armstrong said. The stains were medium impact blood spatters caused by an object hitting another, according to witness Dr. William Vorsburgh. Spatters covered Oweiss’ clothing and an office partition at the bottom of the basement steps leading to his home office formerly on Kentsdale Drive, Armstrong said.
Oweiss inflicted seven blows to Marianne with a rubber mallet used to work on the backyard pool, Armstrong and Winfree said. Medical examiner Dr. Theodore King testified that Marianne Oweiss had bruising of her head, skull and brain, causing her to lose consciousness within seconds and causing her death soon thereafter.
“You heard from Dr. King that the blows were rapidly fatal, that Marianne had no chance,” Armstrong said.
After the first blow from her husband, “Marianne falls to her knees and she calls for Omar, the only person who can help. As she tries to shield her head, she gets bruises on the back of her hands as she holds her head,” Armstrong said. “This time he is on one knee, this time not proposing a marriage but ending one.”
NO BLOOD was found on Omar Oweiss, Zakaria’s son who found his mother lying “in a frog-like position in a pool of blood,” prosecutor Katherine Winfree said.
Police never suspected Omar, nor did prosecutors, though the defense pointed to the defendant’s son as the one who committed the murder.
“There is no secret that his whole defense is to discredit this young man. He knows if you believe Omar we can go home,” said Winfree.
“He wants you to think Omar is violent. Where just where is the evidence of that?”
THERE ARE MANY REASONS to believe Omar, Winfree told the jury. He has an alibi, a reliable alibi who testified. He was asleep with his girlfriend Claudia Viens upstairs when both were awakened to hear Omar’s mother’s scream for help, Winfree said. Everything Omar said is corroborated by evidence, Winfree said.
“Mr. Davis says we’ll never know what happened. We do know what happened,” Winfree said.
“Think about the sound of the hammer hitting her skull blow after blow. He, [Zakaria Oweiss], wanted her dead and that is what he accomplished,” Winfree said.
Winfree reminded jurors of the testimony of detective Michael Brent. The police purposely told Zakaria Oweiss they thought it might have been his son who killed Marianne even though they knew it was not.
“The police didn’t suspect Omar. They were hoping this man would have the decency to say what he has done, that he wouldn’t stay silent when police led him to believe they thought it was his son,” Winfree said.
She told jurors of a rare moment of candor from Zakaria Oweiss in the police station when the father said, “Omar could not have done it. Omar is the most disciplined son, he is honest. There is no way he could do that,” Winfree said Zakaria Oweiss told police detectives.
ZAKARIA OWEISS left his house at the expected time on the morning Aug. 15, 2001, so his housekeeper would see him leave in his work clothes. He drove off in his red Jetta VW, prosecutors said, but then turned around after he knew the housekeeper would be gone and his younger son would be at soccer practice at Gonzaga High School. He canceled an entire day of appointments by calling the hospital where he works in Washington
After parking his red Jetta somewhere down the road, he entered his home to murder his wife, she said.
After hearing screams and racing downstairs to find his mother lying in a pool of blood, Omar found his father with a rubber mallet in his hand in the driveway, said prosecutors.
When Omar told his father he was going to call the police, his father told him to wait until he got rid of the hammer.
Omar didn’t tell detectives this for eight days and the hammer was never found.
“This is a young man who was told by his father to lie,” said Winfree. “He loves his father, and how sad this is the only parent he has left, a parent who has put him in this position.”
BUT NOW, Oweiss’ defense strategy is to blame his oldest son for the death of Marianne Oweiss.
“If Omar was guilty, why couldn’t he have said it,” Winfree said.
Zakaria Oweiss never did take the stand.
Winfree reminded the jury of Omar’s answer when defense attorney Peter Davis asked him if he killed his mother during cross examination.
“I don’t think I could live a day if I killed my mother,” was his testimony.
Omar gulped visibly as his answer was brought up during closing arguments. He then rubbed his eyes.
“We ask you to tell Marianne Oweiss with your verdict that you have heard her. We ask you to tell Omar that you understand the dilemma that he faced. We ask you to tell the defendant that ‘til death do us part’ doesn’t allow you to cause that death,” Armstrong said.
“Zakaria Oweiss is a murderer. It is time to let Zakaria Oweiss know you are not fooled by this reprehensible defense,” Winfree said.