DALLAS — Below is a recap of Day 3 of Yaser Said's trial in Dallas on Thursday. Watch Day 4 of the trial here:
In a Dallas County courtroom, Patricia Owens saw her former husband and the father of their children for the first time in 14 years.
The last time she was him was the night Yaser Said allegedly killed their two teenage daughters – Amina and Sarah – for dating American boys.
Speaking haltingly and softly at times, Owens told jurors about the controlling and abusive man she married at 15 after dating for only three weeks, how she had three children in quick succession and how she repeatedly left only to return out of fear.
Said didn’t work much and when he did, he drove a taxi, she said. She worked retail jobs and he took what money she earned that didn’t go for bills.
“When he got income tax, he would take it,” she testified. “When I got my check and paid the bills, what was left he would take it.”
Yaser Said is charged with capital murder in the deaths of his daughters. Their bodies were found Jan. 1, 2008, in a cab at an Irving hotel. He was captured 12 years later.
In the late 1990s, the family moved to Hill County, just outside Waco.
While living there, the girls told their mother that Yaser Said had been sexually abusing them. Owens took them to the police station to report the alleged abuse.
Owens left Yaser in the fall of 1998. She and her children lived with her sister in Duncanville and kept her whereabouts from Yaser a secret.
In November 1998, Owens reported to Garland police that Yaser Said had threatened to kill her. Owens also sought a protective order.
But, Owens ultimately returned to Yaser and took the girls to Hill County to recant the sexual abuse allegations.
“I felt scared not to go back,” she said in a low tone. “Yaser was abusive.”
Owens repeatedly left Yaser only to return.
“He was controlling (and) abusive,” she said.
Asked why she would return, “I was just scared.”
By the mid-2000s, the family was living in Bedford. The girls were teenagers, but not allowed to date.
Amina got a car and began driving herself to karate classes. She had also struck up a friendship with Joseph Moreno. Owens said she did not tell Said about it.
Around 2006, the family abruptly moved to Lewisville during the school year. Owens said he decided to move the family because he wanted to be closer to his taxi-driving job.
Owens said she and the girls got jobs working at Kroger.
Erik Panameno also worked there. He and Sarah began dating.
Amina also began dating Edgar Ruiz, a junior college student who sometimes came into the store.
Owens testified that by the fall of 2007 she was aware of the girls were dating Ruiz and Panamemo, but she did not tell Said because she knew he would disapprove of it.
The girls had also gotten engaged to their boyfriends, she testified.
Around that time, Said began checking the girls’ phone records and calling the numbers in it. If a boy answered, he would write “boy” beside the contact and if a girl answered, he would write, “girl.”
In December 2007, the girls told their mother that they were going to run away.
“We thought Yaser found out they were dating boys,” Owens testified. “Sarah said that Yaser had threatened Amina.”
Clearly reluctant to answer questions, Owens said Sarah told her that Said threatened Amina with a gun. She said she did not confront Said about it because she knew “he would have gotten abusive toward me.”
Once the plan was hatched, Owens testified that she told the girls to put their clothes in trash bags in hopes of making it appear that they were merely donating clothing.
Then they waited for Said to go to work.
Several days went by. Said finally went to work on Christmas Day.
Owens testified that she told her son that she was taking the girls to a convenience store to get a drink. She took $4,000 from Said’s safe. When they left, she said she and the girls destroyed the SIM cards in their phones, so that Said could not track there whereabouts.
Owens, the girls and the boyfriends fled first to Kansas and then to Oklahoma, where they rented an apartment. Once in Oklahoma, she said they got a pre-paid phone.
Said and his brother began leaving messages on her and Amina’s voicemail.
She said in the messages, the Said brothers begged her to return with the girls so they could finish school. She said they promised that Yaser Said would leave the family home and stay elsewhere if they would only come home.
“They were trying to be nice and convince us that everything was going to be ok, just come back and finish school,” Owens said.
Owens said she ultimately decided to return because Amina only had a few more months to finish her senior year and she didn’t want to mess up her chance to go to college.
“I didn’t think anything would happen,” she testified.
Back in Texas, Sarah returned to the family home with Owens. Amina went to stay at Edgar’s home. Owens testified that she told Said that Amina was at a female friend’s house.
She said she did not tell Said about the boys nor that they had accompanied them on the out-of-state flight.
At the house, Owens said Said told Sarah that he was glad she was back and things seemed OK. Owens testified that Said spent quite a bit of time talking to Sarah alone.
He also gave Sarah a new SIM card for her phone.
Still, he was chewing on the side of his cheek, which she said she knew to be a sign that he was angry.
Owens said she made contact several times with Amina asking when she would be ready to return home.
The next day, Jan. 1, Owens said she went to Edgar’s home to get Amina.
She said Amina did not want to return home, but Amina finally agreed to come with her.
A prosecutor asked if Amina comprehended what could happen to her.
“Yes,” she said.
“Did you comprehend what could happen to her?” the prosecutor asked.
“I did. A part of me did. A part of me didn’t,” Owens responded, before pausing and saying, “I’m sorry.”
She said Said came to the door when she got there with Amina.
“He kissed her on the forehead and I seen a tear go down his cheeks and he hugged her,” Owens said.
Owens said Amina then told she was hungry. She offered to warm up pizza. But Said said he wanted to take the girls to dinner and talk.
He left in the orange cab he drove for work, she said.
After Said and the girls left the house, Owens said she reached him by phone and asked if she and Islam could join them. Said said no and that he was getting gas and would be home soon.
That was the last time she ever spoke with him, she testified.
The bodies of the girls were soon found inside that cab. They had been shot to death.
Said was nowhere to be found.
With that SIM card that her father had just bought her, Sarah managed to make one 911 call. On the call, she told authorities, “Help. My dad shot me.”
Owens said after the girls died and Saids fled, Islam went to Egypt and she mostly lost contract with Islam. He is now serving a 10-year prison sentence for helping his father avoid capture.
Prosecutors also entered into an evidence a green ammunition box recovered from Said’s home.
The ammunition recovered from the box was the same brand as the rounds used to kill the girls, a detective testified.
Former Irving police detective John Schingle testified about his brief meeting with Edgar and Erik on the night of the murders.
He said it was clear to him that the boys did not yet know the girls were dead, so he went ahead and told them.
“They were very upset and shaken,” Schingle said. “You could tell that nobody had told them anything.”
Defense attorneys questioned why Schingle did not take the boys official statements, their fingerprints, DNA or check them for gunshot residue.
“Sir, I had no reason to believe that these young men were lying to me,” Schingle told the defense attorney.
Banging on the table, the defense attorney said, “So you didn’t do any investigation that would determine their credibility, did you officer?”
“Well, there’s reason to yell at me because at that time I was just obtaining their information,” Schingle said.