HOUSTON — A Jordanian immigrant bent on revenge over his daughter’s marriage to a Christian killed a female Iranian activist who persuaded the woman to go through with the marriage, then later killed his despised son-in-law, according to charges revealed Wednesday in Houston.
Ali Awad Mahmoud Irsan, 57, is charged with capital murder in the 2012 deaths of Gelerah Bagherzadeh and son-in-law Coty Beavers. Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh, his 37-year-old wife, and his 21-year-old son, Nasim Irsan, are charged with murder for assisting in Bagherzadeh’s slaying, according to prosecutors.
Nadia Irsan, 30, another of Irsan’s daughters, is charged with felony stalking for tracking her estranged sister for her father, according to court documents.
Father, mother and daughter are in federal custody awaiting sentencing in an unrelated disability fraud case. The son was arrested Wednesday and is being held on $500,000 bond, said family attorney John Floyd of Houston.
The family had nothing to do with the slayings, Floyd said. He criticized the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for accusing Ali Irsan of a religiously motivated crime, saying it would inflame the public and make it hard for the Irsans to get fair trials.
Prosecutors say Irsan disapproved of the marriage between Nesreen Isran and Beavers. They alleged that Ali Irsan blamed Bagherzadeh, who was in the same graduate program as Nesreen, for helping persuade Nesreen to leave her parents' home.
Bagherzadeh was shot to death in her car while pulling up to her parent’s Houston townhome. Witnesses reported seeing a silver car fleeing the scene. About 45 minutes later, Ali Irsan, driving a silver car, was pulled over for speeding as he and his wife were headed from Houston to Conroe, a northern suburb.
Beavers was shot to death about 10 months later at his home.
Ali Irsan shot and killed another son-in-law in 1999, but he said it was in self-defense and wasn't charged in that case.