A U.S. judge convicted an elderly Pakistani immigrant Thursday of murdering his wife in their New York home, savagely beating her over the head after she refused to cook the food he wanted.
Noor Hussain, 75, who believed it was his right to “discipline” his wife, faces up to 25 years to life when he is sentenced next month. Frail and with medical problems, he will likely die behind bars. He subjected Nazar, 66, his third wife, to at least 15 years of abuse and on the night of April 2, 2011 battered her 20 times around the head and body in their Brooklyn apartment.
Hussain admitted he struck her with a wooden stick after she made lentils rather than the goat dinner he wanted, and “disrespected” him by swearing at him.
His lawyer Julie Clark had argued for manslaughter in the second degree, saying he did not intend to kill her and thought it acceptable to discipline his wife of 21 years. But Judge Matthew D’Emic handed down a second degree murder conviction, reaching a swift decision after the court saw gruesome evidence and heard harrowing testimony.
Hussain, who has been held since his arrest the day after his wife’s death, will be sentenced on June 16, according to Clark. He was “teary” when the verdict was announced, she said.
Clark conceded her client had battered his wife for 15-16 years, but denied he had a motive for murder. “Culturally he was raised to believe that he had a right to discipline his wife,” she said. “I was not trying to indict the entire Pakistani culture.”
During the trial, the court saw photographs of Nazar Hussain’s swollen, bruised face, and of her body lying on a blood-stained bed next to a blood-soaked bedroom wall. Police found blood in the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom sink and on a mop in the bath tub in the couple’s apartment.
Hussain initially told officers that his wife died after waking up in the middle of the night, vomiting blood and having breathing problems, but later admitted beating her. His son telephoned emergency services after arriving at his father’s home to find his stepmother unconscious.
Vincent Maneri, an emergency medic, said he found Nazar Hussain with bruises on her head, a large laceration to her face and upper lip, as well as swollen and bruised arms. Paramedics spent 25-35 minutes trying to resuscitate her, but she never exhibited any sign of life, he said.
Neighbor Safida Khan told the court she heard the Hussains argue at least once or twice a week for years, and that she twice intervened. She testified hearing Nazar “crying and yelling” and her husband “cursing and shouting” on the day she died.
According to a relative, Hussain moved to the United States more than 30 years ago in search of a better life and used to work at a gas station.