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Friday
Nov092012

Husband Arrested in Murder of Iraqi-American Mom, Family Called It a Hate Crime

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(EL CAJON, Calif.) -- The husband of an Iraqi-American mother whose family called her death a hate crime was charged with homicide Friday, nearly eight months after his wife's murder.

Police arrested Kassim Alhimidi, 48, of El Cajon, Calif., Thursday for the murder of his 32-year-old wife, Shaima Alawadi, according to ABC News affiliate KGO.

Alawadi's family called her death a hate crime after she was found beaten in her living room with a note calling her "a terrorist." The murder sent shockwaves through El Cajon, which is home to one of the nation's largest concentrations of Iraqi immigrants.

Alawadi was found by her 17-year-old daughter, who said she and her mother were the only ones home on the morning of March 21, when she heard her mother squeal and the sound of glass breaking. She said she found her mother bloodied, with the note nearby, which also told the family "to go home."

Police said at the time that Alhimidi, the woman's husband, claimed to have been out of the house, taking the couple's younger children to school when the murder occurred.

Fatima Alhimidi, the 17-year-old who found Alawadi, told news reporters the crime must have been motivated by hatred. She said the family had received a similar note a week earlier in which they were told to go home to their own country but had dismissed it as a prank.

El Cajon police, however, said early on that although the possibility of a hate crime had been suggested to them, they believed it was an isolated incident and the area's Iraqi-American population should not fear similar crimes directed at it.

Alhimidi is now charged with first-degree murder for Alawadi's death, according to KGO.

Search warrants viewed by KGO revealed that divorce papers had been found in Alawadi's car but had not been filled out.

Kassim Alhimidi is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 13.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio