Suicide watch for Irving mom jailed in kids' deaths

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by TERRY WALLACE

Associated Press

Posted on July 22, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 22 at 10:13 PM

DALLAS (AP) — A suburban Dallas woman accused of strangling her two young children, whom she said she killed because they were autistic and she wanted "normal kids," was in jail Thursday under a suicide watch, sheriff's officials said.

Saiqa Akhter, 30, of Irving is being kept under a close 24-hour watch with a group of other inmates in the Dallas County jail, sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Leach said. Her bond has been set at $1 million.

Her attorney, Richard Franklin of Plano, said Akhter seemed to fit the profile of other women who suffered from mental problems before killing their children.

"We're going to have her examined by psychologists and psychiatrists," he said Thursday.

Akhter was charged with capital murder in the Monday death of 5-year-old son, Zain Akhter. Another capital murder charge is pending in the slaying of her 2-year-old daughter, Faryaal Akhter, who died Tuesday night, said Irving police spokesman David Tull.

The girl was buried Thursday in Richardson, one day after the boy's burial.

Police said Akhter attacked the children at the family's apartment Monday night, then called 911.

In a recording of the call released by police Wednesday, the woman identified herself as Saiqa Akhter and repeatedly told the operator she killed her two children. At one point, the woman hung up and the dispatcher called her back.

"I killed both of them. I told you," she told the operator. Later, she explained that both children were lying motionless on the bed in the master bedroom.

"They are not doing anything. They are just blue and they are not taking any breaths and ... their heart is not beating," she said.

She said she initially tried to poison the children with bathroom cleaner but they refused to drink it, so "I used a wire on their necks," she said.

When the operator asked the woman why she attacked her children, she said, "They're both not normal, not normal. They're autistic. Both are autistic." Pressed further, she said, "I don't want my children to be like that. ... I want normal kids."

Later, the dispatcher asked the woman what she was feeling. "Nothing," she responded.

At one point, water could be heard running in the background and the woman told the operator she was trying to wash the smell of cleaner off of her hands. The dispatcher then told the woman to go sit on a couch in the living room and wait for police.

At the end of the recording, police can be heard arriving at the home.

If convicted of capital murder, Akhter could face the death penalty, though prosecutors have not said if they will seek that punishment.

Saiqa Akhter's uncle, Wasimul Haque, told The Dallas Morning News his niece had been depressed since moving into a new apartment in Irving. Haque said Zain had autism and a severe speech impediment but had been improving and was in speech therapy.

The children's father, Rashid Akhter, emigrated from Pakistan in the late 1990s, the newspaper reported. He married Saiqa, who also is from Pakistan, several years later, it said.

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