Chelsea Schilling is a commentary editor and staff writer for WND and a proud U.S. Army veteran. She has also worked as a news producer at USA Radio Network and as a news reporter for the Sacramento Union.More ↓Less ↑
Police revealed the decapitated wife of a Muslim TV network founder in New York was stabbed several times with hunting knives and may have been alive as her killer beheaded her – and, despite the brutal slaying, her husband will only face charges of second-degree murder.
As WND previously reported, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, who has been charged with beheading his wife, Aasiya Hassan, 37, was the recipient of an award from the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations, the self-described Muslim civil rights group that boasts of its influence on U.S. government policy.
The Hassans founded Bridges TV in November 2004. They described it as a satellite news and opinion channel aimed at portraying Muslims in a positive light following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Hassan is accused of cutting off his wife’s head at his Buffalo, N.Y., station Feb. 12. However, sources have now confirmed that the woman was gouged with hunting knives before she was decapitated, the Buffalo News reports.
Orchard Park police said Hassan is not a hunter, and would not say how he may have obtained the knives. Authorities have refused to discuss details of the case, and are still investigating to determine whether Aasiya was alive while her murderer decapitated her.
The victim’s lawyer said Aasiya, a Pakistani national, filed for divorce after numerous incidents of domestic violence. She cited “cruel and inhuman treatment” as reason for the dissolution.
Aasiya had a restraining order against her husband as of Feb. 6 and had kicked him out of their home in Orchard Park, a Buffalo suburb. Her older sister, Asma Firfirey, told the Cape Argus in South Africa that Aasiya often called to talk about marital troubles and said she believes her sister suffered several hours of torture before being murdered.
On Feb. 12, Hassan informed police his wife was dead and told them exactly where to find her remains. Authorities located the woman’s head lying next to her body in a studio hallway.
Muzzammil Hassan receives award from CAIR-PA Chairman Iftekhar Hussain and CAIR National Chairman Parvez Ahmed. (photo: CAIR-PA)
Some have described the murder as an “honor killing” – a term used to describe a killing in which a Muslim man murders his daughter or wife to defend the family’s honor. In countries where Islam is practiced, the murders may be perceived as excusable or understandable punishment for a woman’s disobedience.
While CNN reports Hassan admitted to killing Aasiya, Hassan’s defense attorney, James P. Harrington, claims his client never confessed to the murder.
An Erie County grand jury is expected to hear Hassan’s case soon. If convicted of second-degree murder, Hassan may face life in prison. According to New York State law, the charge is applied in cases where an attacker “acted under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance for which there was a reasonable explanation or excuse.”
A first-degree murder conviction could have meant a maximum sentence of life without parole, but prosecutors say the charge may only be applied to 13 specific deliberate types of homicides, including murders of judges, law enforcement officers, witnesses, or in cases of torture, contract, terrorist or serial killings.
According to New York Penal Law Section 125.27, a person is guilty of murder in the first degree when he causes the death of a person and “acted in an especially cruel and wanton manner pursuant to a course of conduct intended to inflict and inflicting torture upon the victim prior to the victim’s death.”
Despite the gruesome nature of the attack, stab wounds and decapitation, and the law’s torture clause, prosecutors told the Buffalo News they cannot charge Hassan with first-degree murder because the crime doesn’t fit New York State requirements.