BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Muzzammil Hassan came face-to-face with his son and daughter, who took the stand for the prosecution on Wednesday.
Michael and Sonia Hassan both testified their father became violent in the past. Michael Hassan says he feared the worst while waiting in the minivan for his stepmother outside the Bridges TV Studio on the day of the murder. Also, chilling testimony from a responding police officer who described Hassan as calm.
Prosecutors called five new witnesses on Wednesday, including Hassan's two adult children. His daughter's testimony was by far the most emotional. No cameras were allowed in the courtroom, but our reporters followed the trial from inside.
Defendant Muzzammil Hassan hasn't heard from his daughter, Sonia, or his son, Michael, in two years. But day two of this second degree murder trial brought them face-to-face in court. Michael was first to testify against his dad. He told jurors about several incidents of physical abuse that happened in the family's home leading up to his mother's death.
Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz said, "People have difficult relationships with teenage children and that's something that always happens. That's a common story."
Hassan's attorney began his cross examination by asking Michael, "You don't like your father very much, do you?" Michael responded, "No, sir." Michael and his sister called their step-mother Aaisya "Uma," which means mother, because she was more of a parent to them. Both children admitted the couple argued, but neither of them saw Aasiya instigate a fight.
A growing theme of the defense seems to be that Mo Hassan's actions were always misunderstood.
"Suffice it to say, teenage relationships with parents are difficult," said Schwartz.
Michael testified that he was freaked out upon learning that Aasiya was killed. He and his two younger siblings were outside Bridges TV studios in a minivan waiting for her as she met her death. He told jurors, "I was nervous. It was my understanding my dad would not be at the office" when he and Aasiya stopped by to drop off clean clothes for Hassan. Aasiya had filed for divorce just six days earlier.
Sonia became emotional a number of times while testifying. She claims Hassan tried to contact her through letters since the slaying, telling her he would give up all of his possessions to her if she wouldn't speak ill of him. She never responded.
Schwartz said, "Mo has always expressed a deep love for his children. That's a strong issue for him."
Testimony wrapped up on Wednesday shortly after 5 p.m. Neither of Hassan's children ever referred to him as "father" during their testimony, always calling him "the defendant." And for the first time, Hassan himself spoke in court, asking the judge to allow him to cross examine his daughter on the witness stand. The judge denied that request.
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