The son of an Iraqi immigrant convicted of killing his wife said he remains conflicted on the high-profile case that ended in San Diego earlier this week with a guilty verdict, adding that he still loves his father.
“It’s not that I disagree with what the decision was, it’s just I hate what the decision was itself. I hate the verdict,” Mohammed Al-Himidi told NBC 7 San Diego Friday in an exclusive interview.
The verdict sparked several outbursts in the courtroom, including Mohammed screaming, “This is bulls---! This is f---ing bulls---! My dad is innocent. He was tried unfairly.”
Mohammed said his post-verdict outburst was a mix of every emotion he’s ever had about the case involving his parents, finally reaching a boiling point.
“I had an emotional breakdown, really,” he told NBC 7. “A million thoughts were going through my head. Basically, the judge [had] just said, ‘Your dad is going to be locked up for life.’ My dad has been there throughout my whole life.”
On Mar. 21, 2012, Mohammed’s mother was brutally beaten in a bloody attack at their family’s home in El Cajon. She suffered critical brain injuries and died three days later. At the time, Mohammed was only 15 years old.
At first, the case was investigated as a hate crime due to a handwritten note found at the crime scene, which read: “This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist.”
Ultimately, El Cajon police determined it wasn’t a hate crime but rather a crime of domestic violence. Investigators arrested Al-Himidi in connection with the killing in November 2012.
Mohammed said he’s been conflicted with the case from the beginning. Now, with the guilty verdict, it’s even harder. He said he still feels like he’s stuck in the middle when it comes to what he believes.
“My dad, I personally thought, was innocent coming into the trial. I didn’t know what to believe, honestly. It’s the law versus your loyalty for your dad,” he explained. “It’s kind of like [being] in the middle. When I say I love my dad still, I’m just thinking, ‘Damn, I don’t know if my mom is going to be cool with that.’ It’s hard. It’s in the middle. I love my mom, but I also love my dad.”
While Mohammed said he loved his mother deeply, he worries that he’s now lost his father, too.
The teen said he still doesn’t know if he believes his dad is really guilty.
“I wasn’t actually there to see what happened. That’s between God and my mom. My mom was there – she knows who did it. Maybe my dad did it, maybe he didn’t,” he said. “Even [if] my dad did that, I still have love for him. It’s still my dad.”
Mohammed said the verdict is especially difficult to swallow because his father never had a history of violence in the family.
“My dad was never like that, never ever like that. My dad was never aggressive, never physical, never any of that stuff. I mean, it’s so confusing,” he said.
The teenager said he and his younger brother, Ali, have differing opinions when it comes to whether or not their father committed the crime. Still, those opinions won’t pit the brothers against one another.
“My brother and I are best friends. We’re really close. We don’t agree with each other, but that’s not going to ruin our brotherhood,” said Mohammed, adding that he respects the opinions of all of his siblings on this case, but stands by his own as well.
“I lost my parents, but I still have my siblings. I’ve trying to hold it together. There’s a lot going on,” he added.
Despite a verdict in place and Al-Himidi awaiting his sentencing on May 15, Mohammed said closure for the family still seems elusive at this point.
“Right now, to be honest with you, I don’t really feel a sense of closure. I just feel a sense of the family being even more separated,” he said.
Mohammed currently lives with relatives in Texas. He’s graduating from high school in May and said he plans to pursue a career in counseling, focusing on children and teens who have experienced this same type of trauma.