DALLAS –– The capital murder trial of the Dallas father accused of kidnapping and drowning his two children in 2011 began Monday.
If convicted, Naim Rasool Muhammad, 34, could be sentenced to death or life in prison. On Aug. 22, 2011, investigators say Muhammad approached his two children as they were walking to Frazier Elementary School with their mother. He forced all three into his vehicle and drove away.
The mother was able to escape and ran to a Dallas constable for help, triggering a nearly four hour search to find the boys, Elijah, 3, and Naim, 5. Authorities were too late –– the two were drowned and later found in the trunk of a car.
During opening statements on Monday, prosecutor Tammy Kemp told the jury that Muhammad told his children that he loved them and then asked them to "play like they were swimming" while he "grabbed each and their their heads down in the filthy, stinky creek until they stopped breathing, stopped moving."
"He took the boys to the creek, Naim was saying, 'I wanna live, Daddy, I wanna live,'" Kemp said.
Muhammad has been charged with two counts of capital murder. Authorities have said that the 34-year-old was upset about the end of his turbulent relationship with the mother of his children.
Defense attorney Paul Johnson spoke for less than five minutes during his opening statements, telling the jury that, while Muhammad is guilty, they should keep an open mind during testimony. Muhammad, however, pled not guilty to the charges against him.
Dallas County Medical Examiner Dr. Tracy Dyer was the prosecution's first witness. Dyer told the court that both boys drowned. Each death was ruled a homicide. Elijah, the younger of the two, was wearing a Spongebob Squarepants tee shirt.
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins was present in Judge Quay Parker's courtroom for the trial's beginning. Muhammad had a past history of family violence before the killings. In 2009, court records show he received five years probation for hitting his sister in the head with a hammer.
Six months before his two children were found drowned, Muhammad violated probation for allegedly hitting their mother. The county issued a warrant for his arrest, but deputies never were able to apprehend him.
The trial continues Tuesday morning in Criminal District Court No. 4 in the Frank Crowley Courts Building. The mother of the boys is expected to testify.