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Iraqi immigrant ordered to trial in bludgeoning death of his wife

July 27, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • Kassim Alhimidi wipes tears during a 2012 memorial for his wife Shaima Alawadi at the Islamic Center of Lakeside, just days after her bloody body was found in their home. He was ordered Friday to stand trial for her murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Kassim Alhimidi wipes tears during a 2012 memorial for his wife Shaima Alawadi… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

An Iraqi immigrant was ordered Friday to stand trial on a charge of bludgeoning his wife to death in their El Cajon homeĀ  -- a crime that initially gained notoriety as a potential hate crime.

Police found a note next to the body of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi that read, "This is my country go back to yours terrorist."

The note led to speculation, particularly in the media, that the bloody crime was the result of anti-Iraqi sentiment in the San Diego suburb that has one of the largest Iraqi immigrant communities in the nation.

But police soon focused on Alawadi's husband, Kassim Alhimidi, 49, particularly after finding that his wife was planning to divorce him and move to Texas to be with relatives.

After a two-day preliminary hearing in the El Cajon branch of San Diego County Superior Court, Alhimidi was ordered to trial for the March 21, 2012, attack. Alhimidi has pleaded not guilty. He wept through much of the hearing.

The couple came to the U.S. in the mid-1990s after fleeing Iraq and Saddam Hussein and living in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia for two years.

Alawadi's body was found by the couple's 18-year-old daughter, Fatima, the oldest of the couple's five children.

Alhimidi accompanied his wife's body to Iraq for burial. Her father is a Shia cleric in the holy city of Najaf.

During the preliminary hearing, an El Cajon police officer testified that police believed Alawadi was struck from behind while she was working on a computer. No weapon was found, according to testimony.

The origin of the note remains unclear. Police testified that no fingerprints were found on it.

The note may have been a copy of one found on the outside of the home days earlier, a note that her mother considered a "kid's prank," the couple's teenage daughter testified.

Special correspondent Neal Putnam contributed to this story.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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