|Ali Mahmood Awad Irsan|
December 27, 1957|
|Criminal charge||Capital murder|
|Criminal penalty||Death (August 2018)|
|Criminal status||In prison|
Robin Dahl (1979-1994)|
Shmou Ali Al Rawabdeh (circa 1994-)
Nasemah Rachelle Irsan
Nesreen Irsan Beavers
January 15, 2012 (Bagherzadeh)|
November 12, 2012 (Beavers)
Ali Mahmood Awad Irsan (Arabic: علي محمود عوض عرسان; born December 27, 1957) is a convicted murderer held on Texas death row. Originating from Jordan and a naturalized U.S. citizen, he was sentenced for the murders of his son-in-law, Coty Beavers, and Gelareh Bagherzadeh (Persian: گلاره باقرزاده), a friend of one of his daughters, in Greater Houston.
- 1 Background
- 2 Murders
- 3 Prosecution
- 4 Aftermath and analysis
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Ali Irsan and his family
Irsan, using a student visa, came to the United States in 1979, and became a naturalized United States citizen. He lived on a 3-acre (1.2 ha) property in a rural area, in unincorporated eastern Montgomery County, Texas, near Conroe. Craig Malislow of the Houston Press stated that Irsan "considered himself to be a devout Muslim." Irsan studied in a "medical laboratory" program Kirkwood Community College, receiving his degree in 1978. He stated in court filings that he studied in a medical program at a tertiary institution in Jordan, and he also stated that he had a Houston Community College "diploma of auto -mechanic".
Irsan, then 22, married his first wife when she was 17. Robin Dahl first met in 1979 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa while he studied in community college and she worked on her GED. They married circa 1980, and moved to the Houston area by 1984. The couple had a total of four children, with their first being born in 1981. In 1994 Irsan divorced his first wife.
When Irsan was 35, he traveled to Jordan, and entered into an arranged marriage with a teenage girl, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh (Arabic: شمو علي الروابدة), who was approximately 15, or 16. The first wife left the house shortly after Irsan married the second wife. Alrawabdeh a Jordanian national, arrived in the U.S. circa 1995. In federal court Irsan stated that he married her in Jordan but that he did not legally marry her in the United States. Alrawabdeh had eight children with him while they lived in the United States; including the children from the other wife, the total fathered by Irsan is 12. She naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2001.
In 1999 Irsan killed Amjad Hussein Alidam (Arabic: أمجد حسین علي دام), the husband of Irsan's daughter Nasemah Rachelle Irsan (Arabic: نسيمة راشیل عرسان), Irsan's eldest daughter, at Irsan's residence. Alidam was an Iraqi immigrant to the U.S. and a Shia Muslim. Irsan stated that he did the killing in self-defense. Irsan never received criminal charges in that case, as area law enforcement believed him to be innocent. A Montgomery County grand jury no billed possible charges against Irsan. Nasemah was sent back to Jordan.
Nesreen Irsan Beavers, Nadia Irsan, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, and Coty Beavers
Two of Irsan's daughters, Nadia (Arabic: نادیا علي عرسان), and Nesreen (Arabic: نسرین عرسان), were children of the previous wife. Nadia is a U.S. citizen, and the family previously educated them through homeschooling. They enrolled in a biology program in Lone Star College-Montgomery. A professor at Lone Star who taught the women stated that, as paraphrased by Malislow in a Houston Press article, Nadia and Nesreen "fought hard to convince their father to let them enroll". In 2010 younger of the two, Nesreen, met Beavers and his twin brother, Cory, there. Beavers was a Christian, while the girls came from a Muslim family. At the time both wore hijab.
The two women and Cory Beavers were admitted to University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's molecular genetics program, where Nesreen met Bagherzadeh, an Iranian. Bagherzadeh, a medical student, and medical researcher, had molecular genetics as her area of study. She was born in France and was from Tehran. She studied biology in Tehran and later attended university in Budapest, Hungary, before moving to Houston in 2007 to join her parents, who bought a house near Uptown Houston (the area around the Houston Galleria) so she could live there; this residence was within the Woodway Point townhomes, and an area street would become the site of her death. Nesreen introduced Cory Beavers to Bagherzadeh.
Bagherzadeh publicly protested in favor of women's rights on numerous occasions, and criticized the Iranian government. She participated in the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests that were held in Houston and also protested against the Al-Hadi Mosque which she accused of being connected to the Iranian government. Lomi Kriel of the Houston Chronicle wrote that "She was outspokenly critical of Islam, even becoming embroiled in an argument with her father's bosses about their faith." She was a member of Second Baptist Church, as she had converted to Christianity in 2011. When Nesreen chose to leave Islam and become a Christian, Bagherzadeh gave her support, and Bagherzadeh also suggested that Nesreen marry Beavers.
Nesreen and Coty Beavers became romantically involved in secret. Brian Rogers of the Houston Chronicle stated that Nadia felt jealousy over the relationship; Irsan told his daughters that they were not allowed to date. According to court testimony, Irsan threatened the girls with death if they engaged in romantic relationships, and also stated he would kill the boyfriends in that case. According to Texas prosecutors, Nadia wished to be in a relationship with Cory Beavers, but he declined. The relationship between Nesreen and Nadia deteriorated.
Kidnapping, escape, harassment, and marriage
Irsan learned about Nesreen's relationship to Beavers while he was in Jordan. In June 2011 Alrawabdeh held her against her will at Irsan's residence; Nesreen accused Nadia of also holding her against her will. The persons/people holding her captive had discovered e-mails, text messages, and voice mails sent to and from Coty Beavers on Nesreen's communication device. She escaped through a window and went to be with Beavers at his residence, then his mother's house in Spring. In November 2011 Cory Beavers and Bagherzadeh became boyfriend and girlfriend.
Nesreen stated she was afraid that her father would harm her. Her father and other members of the family looked for her and sent messages to Bagherzadeh, who refused to divulge the information. He remained unaware of the location of her residence. Beginning around fall 2011, Irsan harassed Nesreen, Coty Beavers, and Bagherzadeh, and the group experienced acts of vandalism against their property. Nesreen, who was 23 at the time, got a protective order that banned her father from contacting her, but he continued to look for her. For those reasons she chose not to attend the graduation ceremony for her class.
Circa July 2012, Nesreen married Coty Beavers, taking the name Nesreen Irsan Beavers, and only holding a civil ceremony to avoid getting unwanted attention, doing so at the Harris County Courthouse. The two moved to a new residence a significant distance away from their previous one; they were at the Legacy Park apartments in unincorporated northwest Harris County, which would become the site of Beavers's death. Nesreen and Beavers chose a gated apartment complex specifically for their protection, and they rented a third-floor unit to minimize their possibility of being attacked. Whenever Nesreen left the apartment to travel to and from work, Beavers escorted her to protect her.
Federal fraud convictions
Nesreen told authorities that Irsan had committed fraud related to Social Security. The family received money from the Social Security Administration (SSA), called Supplemental Security Income (SSI), for people who are unable to work and do not have resources, but Irsan and his family concealed their resources even though he told the government that beginning in 1990 he was unable to find work. Irsan held his money in multiple bank accounts, with some under the names of his children while having de facto control over them, while also claiming benefits and hiding the true amount of money he controlled. He also possessed multiple false credit cards, some under false names and some in the names of family members. The criminal schemes began in 1995. Agencies investigating included multiple agencies in the federal, state, and local levels, among them the FBI, SSA, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Homeland Security Investigations, and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.
A group of police, with the FBI leading, arrested Irsan, Alrawabdeh, and Nadia on May 22, 2014, accusing them of offenses related to fraud perpetrated against the social security system. Irsan was held in the Joe Corley Detention Facility/Joe Corley Processing Center, a private correctional facility in Conroe, Texas operated by the GEO Group which, in addition to housing immigration prisoners, acts as a detention center for the U.S. Marshals Service. All three suspects were also held at Federal Detention Center, Houston in Downtown Houston. Federal authorities did not allow him to post bond; Alrawabdeh and Nadia were also held. Six of Irsan's children who were still minors were put in the custody of child protective services (CPS).
The prosecuting federal attorneys were Jim McAlister and Mark McIntyre. Lawyer John Floyd represented Irsan in regard to his federal prosecution. The FBI raided the house another time on June 5, 2014. Irsan was initially charged with conspiracy to benefits fraud in a continuing scheme, defraud the United States, and theft of public money over $1,000.
On April 3, 2015, Irsan pleaded guilty, to "conspiracy to defraud the United States", while and Alrawabdeh and Nadia were convicted of "making false statements". All were sentenced to serve time in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Irsan received a federal sentence of 45 months (3 years and 9 months) and a fine of $290,651 from Judge Lynn Hughes. Alrawabdeh and Nadia each received 24 months (two years).
The arrests and prosecutions were not covered in the Jordanian news media.
|Map of Houston showing the locations of the murders of Bagherzadeh and Beavers|
Bagherzadeh was murdered while in her father's car, outside of her parents' residence on January 15, 2012. Bagherzadeh was 30 at the time of her death. The triggerperson, using a .380 handgun, shot Bagherzadeh through Alrawabdeh's passenger side window, hitting Bagherzadeh in the head with one bullet that went through the passenger side window of the car she drove. Alrawabdeh stated that Nasim Irsan (Arabic: نسیم عرسان), Irsan's son, was the triggerperson.
Bagherzadeh was driving from the residence of her boyfriend Cory Beavers to her parents' residence, while talking on the telephone with a former boyfriend. Up to three other bullets were fired at her car. Her car hit a townhouse's garage, and police found her body around 12:30 PM; a shooting had been first reported around 11:45 PM. Prosecutors stated that Irsan; Alrawabdeh; and Nasim Irsan, Irsan's son and Nesreen's brother, were together in a car. At 12:30 A.M. Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer stopped the car going 79 miles per hour, above the speed limit, on Interstate 45, while it was going back to Montgomery County. Irsan was given a warning and allowed to leave after he stated he was trying to get a drink to deal with a diabetic condition. Initially no leads were announced, and Crime Stoppers stated that there was a $250,000 reward for information that could solve the case. Craig Malislow of the Houston Press described the award as "record-high". This became the highest reward in U.S. Crimestoppers history. Shortly after the killings, Bagherzadeh's allies and friends believed that the Iranian government had Bagherzadeh assassinated.
Coty Beavers was murdered at his residence at the Legacy Park apartments, on November 12, 2012. According to Alrawabdeh, Irsan personally shot Beavers. He had entered the apartment while it was unlocked and stayed inside while Beavers was with Nesreen; Beavers went with her to her car, before she drove away to her workplace, around 5:45 A.M. Irsan shot him after Beavers re-entered the house. Irsan was in hiding inside a bedroom before he killed his victim, 28 at the time of his death. Alwarabdeh was also present at Beavers's murder. Nesreen found Beavers's body, at about 4:30 P.M.
Two days prior to the killing, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO), a suspect asked people in Legacy Park for the whereabouts of Beavers. Cory Beavers stated to the news channel KPRC that his brother "said basically if I'm ever killed or murdered it was Ali Irsan. I mean he was that specific about it." Beavers's mother, Shirley McCormick, stated in Irsan's state trial that "We knew who was responsible, but we didn’t know who all had helped him. I told [the police officers] it was Ali Irsan, and he also had to be the one who killed Gelareh."
Texas authorities stated that Nesreen's conversion and marrying a Christian man motivated the father to commit the murders. In her court testimony, Alrawabdeh stated that Irsan planned to also kill Nesreen, Cory Beavers, and the Beavers twins' mother. She stated "If a girl ran away from home, it would bring disgrace to the family." Stating that the difference in religion and the element of premarital sex would reflect poorly on Irsan, Alrawabdeh stated "I’m from an Arabic country and I’m aware of the culture. The family would kill her to clean their honor." According to prosecutors, Irsan wished to kill Nesreen's loved ones first to inflict emotional distress on her, before killing her at a later date. Devon Anderson, the Harris County district attorney in 2015, stated that Irsan "believed that [Nesreen] and others, including the two victims, had violated his honor as a Muslim."
Investigation, arrest, and pre-trial detention
Officers of the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) searched Irsan's residence nine days after Beavers's death. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted surveillance on the suspects. On the day Irsan was arrested for federal fraud charges, May 22, 2014, Harris County prosecutors announced that Irsan was also being charged for Bagherzadeh's murder. By March 2015 those charges were dismissed, but the Harris County authorities stated they would file additional charges. Harris County district attorney Anderson did not say why the initial charges were dropped and with newer ones later filed; Michael Barajas of the Houston Press stated "It appears that decision was purely strategic". After prosecutors established the connection between the two killings, new capital murder charges against Irsan were filed on April 22, 2015, charging him for the murders of both Bagherzadeh and Beavers. According to Texas state law, capital murder can be filed if two killings are connected as part of the same scheme. Irsan's lawyers stated that he had no connection to either murder and the circumstances of the murders were not known. They also stated that the murders of Bagherzadeh and Beavers were not connected.
The federal government continued to hold Irsan, Alrawabdeh, and Nadia while Harris County prosecutors announced new criminal charges in 2015. Nadia Irsan received charges accusing her of stalking her sister, a felony to the third degree; the maximum possible sentence, if conviction occurs, is 10 years. Prosecutors can file murder charges against her if they find she helped plan any murders, due to the rule of parties statutes. Nasim, charged with Bagherzadeh's murder, was arrested on April 22, 2015 and moved to the Harris County jail; he was 21 at the time. His bail was set to $500,000. Alwarabdeh also was charged with Bagherzadeh's murder, as she allowed the triggerperson to use her window to kill Bagherzadeh. By May 1, 2015, Nadia remained in federal incarceration while her father and stepmother were moved to the Harris County jail. In the courtroom, Irsan asked for the state to not notify the Jordanian government, citing that he was a citizen of the United States. Later in 2015 Nadia was moved to the Harris County Jail, and she was moved to house arrest in January 2017 with $250,000 bail. Texas State District Judge Jan Krocker marked Nadia's stalking trial for July 2017. In the meantime Krocker chose house arrest since Nadia had been accused of stalking.
After state criminal charges were announced, an anonymous person stating to be one of the children of Irsan created a petition stating that "racial prejudice and discrimination" had victimized the family. While Montgomery County authorities stated they were re-investigating the 1999 death of Alidam, they would only file charges on the matter if new evidence is presented.
Murder trial and punishment
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2018)
Irsan's capital murder trial began on June 25, 2018. It was held at the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse in Downtown Houston. The normal venue for state felony cases, the Harris County Criminal Courthouse in Downtown, had sustained damage from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and the post-storm restoration was not yet complete.
The prosecutors sought the death penalty against Irsan, making it the first death penalty prosecution in Houston in 2018, and also the first death penalty case during the tenure of Kim Ogg, the Harris County district attorney since January 1, 2017. Anna Emmons, Marie Primm, and Jon Stephenson were appointed special prosecutors, since Ogg's first assistant, prior to the beginning of the murder trial, represented a suspected co-conspirator in another case; Ogg recused. Allen Tanner and Rudy Duarte were attorneys appointed by the judge to represent Irsan, while Katherine Scardino was the attorney appointed for Alrawabdeh. Jan Krocker served as the state district judge.
Nesreen testified against her father, as did Cory Beavers, who lost his twin brother and girlfriend, and McCormick, who lost her son. Alrawabdeh entered into a plea deal that gave her a conviction of kidnapping instead of murder, and as part of the plea deal she testified against Irsan. Alrawabdeh was to be released with time served after the end of the trial. In addition Dahl testified against her first husband, and first daughter Nesemah testified against her father. Two younger sisters of Irsan flew from Jordan to the U.S. to testify in his favor. Two sons of Irsan also testified in favor of their father. Even though his lawyers asked him not to, Irsan testified in his own trial.
Irsan was declared guilty on July 26, 2018. The jurors came to this conclusion after 35 minutes of deliberation.
In the punishment phase, which lasted two weeks, the jury deliberated between two possible outcomes for a capital murder conviction under Texas law: life without parole or the death penalty. Prosecutors presented a witness who accused Irsan of boasting about murdering Alidam without consequence in 1999. Nesreen testified that Irsan used severe corporal punishment, and that he praised the September 11, 2001 attacks and suicide bombings while living in the United States.
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, Irsan received a death sentence. The jury held a deliberation for nine hours before reaching the sentence. Irsan went into the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) on August 20 of that year. Men sentenced to death under Texas law are normally held at the Polunsky Unit near Livingston, Texas.
Aftermath and analysis
Brian Rogers of the Houston Chronicle stated that experts considered the case to be unusual because usually only the offending woman is killed in an honor killing, and that the Irsan affair increased attention given to honor killings in the United States. Michael Creed, another brother of Coty Beavers, said "You don’t have to be Muslim to be a victim of an honor crime. These are not infrequent events that happen in some random part of the world. They’re happening in America and they’re on the rise." Beavers's father, Dennis Beavers, also stated "If we in this country are not careful, a tragedy like ours could happen to your family." Relatives of Coty Beavers and Bagherzadeh stated that they became more fearful after the murders, with Cory and another brother of Beavers having guns for protection.
On January 23, 2012 Bagherzadeh's funeral was held at Second Baptist Church. Her parents sold their Houston house and moved to Maryland, where their eldest son lived. Ebrahim Bagherzadeh, Bagherzadeh's father, stated that being in Houston reminds them of their daughter and makes them feel sad.
- Honor killing in the United States
- Capital punishment in Texas
- Islam in Houston
- Christianity in Houston
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Ali, responding to questions from [U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson], said he was divorced, not legally married in the U.S. but had married again "overseas."
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Six months after Bagherzadeh was killed in January 2012, Nesreen and Coty Beavers married. They moved to an out of the way apartment complex in northwest Harris County.(the apartment complex was the place where Beavers died)
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[...]at the Legacy Park apartments at 10801 Legacy Park Drive.(the address is shown to give a precise location of the crime scene)
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[...]she was fatally shot in the 800 block of Augusta near Sugar Hill.[...]Coty Beavers, 28, was discovered dead inside his apartment in the 10800 block of Legacy Park Drive[...](the street names and numbers establish the precise locations of the crimes: the second occurred in an unincorporated area; Bagherzadeh's parents have since moved away)
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- Judgment of Conviction by Jury-Capital Murder - The State of Texas vs. Irsan, Ali Award Mahmoud - Texas Courts
- Only Justice at the Wayback Machine (archive index) (website from Bagherzadeh's family seeking answers to her murder)