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Omaima Aree NELSON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Evidence presented during the trial included tales of bondage sex games, decapitation, castration and even an allegation of cannibalism
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 28, 1991
Date of arrest: December 2, 1991
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: William Nelson, 56 (her husband)
Method of murder: Stabbing with scissors - Beating with a clothes iron
Location: Costa Mesa, Orange County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to 28 years to life in prison on February 26, 1993

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Omaima Aree Nelson is an Egyptian American and model who was convicted of murdering her husband, Bill Nelson. She is serving a life sentence at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, California. Her case made international headlines due to allegations of bondage sex, decapitation, castration, and cannibalism.

Marriage and murder

Omaima Aree Nelson was born and raised in Egypt, and immigrated to the United States in 1986. She, then 23, met her husband Bill Nelson, a 56 year-old pilot, in October 1991; the couple married within days of meeting. Omaima would later claim that during the couple's month-long union, she suffered sexual abuse by her husband.

On Thanksgiving Day 1991, Omaima claimed that Bill had sexually assaulted her in their Costa Mesa, California apartment. Following this, Omaima stabbed Bill with scissors, then began beating him with a clothes iron. After murdering him, she began dismembering his body, and allegedly cooked his head and boiled his hands to remove his fingerprints. She then mixed up his body parts with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and disposed of him in a trash can. She reportedly castrated him in revenge for his alleged sexual assaults.

Trial and aftermath

Omaima was arrested on a suspicion of murder charge in December 2, 1991, and her trial began almost exactly one year later on December 1, 1992. She was convicted of second-degree murder on January 12, 1993. She was sentenced to 28 years to life in prison.

Omaima first became eligible for parole in 2006, but was denied when "commissioners found her unpredictable and a serious threat to public safety." She became eligible again in 2011, but was denied by the parole board again, citing that she had not taken responsibility for the murder, and would not be a productive citizen if she were freed. She will not be able to seek parole again until 2026.

Omaima Nelson has been compared to fictional serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter, from Silence of the Lambs. Her case has been televised on the Investigation Discovery programs Happily Never After and Deadly Women.


An Egyptian nanny accused of cooking her husband

1993: When authorities compare you to the real-life cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer and the fictional cannibal Hannibal Lector, you’re notorious. And no criminal defendant was more notorious in the early 1990s that Omaima Aref Nelson, a 24-year-old Egyptian nanny and model.

On Thanksgiving weekend 1991, Nelson bludgeoned pilot William Nelson, her much-older husband whom she married after a four-week courtship, in their Costa Mesa apartment.

Then she skinned the torso, cooked the decapitated head and fried the hands in oil. She was arrested after she stuffed some of her husband’s body parts into garbage bags and offered a friend $75,000 to help her dispose of it.

Omaima Nelson contended her husband beat and raped her regularly, and said she killed him after a particularly brutal assault. A psychologist testified she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and said she was psychotic.

She was convicted her of second-degree murder in January 1993 and sentenced to 28 years to life.

Larry Welborn -


Parole denied for woman who cooked, ate husband

Omaima Nelson says she is a changed woman, adding, 'I am not a monster.' The victim's daughter and an original prosecutor in the grisly 1991 killing speak against release

By Diana Marcum - Los Angeles Times

October 6, 2011

Reporting from Chowchilla, Calif. -- A woman who killed, dismembered and cooked her husband was deemed a risk to society and denied parole Wednesday in a lengthy and at times emotional hearing.

Omaima Nelson, 43, a former nanny commonly compared to the fictional cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter at the time of the murder in 1991, held that she was a changed woman, eager to live the "good life God meant."

But first came the recounting of Nelson's earlier life: by her account, the victim of almost unimaginable abuse as a child in Egypt. Later, a beauty with cut-glass cheekbones, who by prosecution accounts, traded on her sexuality for rent and cars from a long, overlapping line of men — most of them older.

Orange County Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Randy Pawloski, an original prosecutor in the case who took the unusual step of personally attending the hearing at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, said Nelson had a pattern of using sex as a con game, and that her games grew increasingly violent over the years.

In 1991 she met William Nelson in a bar playing pool, and within weeks they were married. Omaima Nelson says it was only then that her husband showed a violent side. She said he was trying to strangle her when she hit him with a lamp, stabbed him with scissors and killed him.

"If I didn't defend my life, I would have been dead. I'm sorry it happened, but I'm glad I lived," she said.

"I'm sorry I dismembered him."

The marriage lasted three weeks.

"The honeymoon ended as dramatically as any in American history," Pawloski told the two-person panel, echoing an opinion that appellate court Justice William Bedsworth wrote in 2000 upholding her murder conviction

In the earlier court trial, a psychiatrist testified that Nelson said she put on red shoes, a red hat and red lipstick before chopping up and cooking her husband's body. She said she prepared his ribs like in a restaurant and said aloud, "It's so sweet."

At the parole hearing, Nelson shook her head vehemently and grimaced as she denied eating her husband.

"I swear to God I did not eat any part of him. I am not a monster," she said.

Commissioner Cynthia Fritz then asked, "What was your purpose in cooking him?"

Nelson declined to answer.

Nelson, her straight, black hair hanging almost to her waist, her face only gently lined with age, said she was not the person she was 20 years ago, a woman who "refused to let go of any pain anyone had ever caused her."

She said she had "looked for love in all the wrong places ... but now I value my integrity and my journey.... I have a strong desire to help others."

She told the board that she was grateful for the grace of God and her family and if released would return to live with her mother in Egypt.

As evidence of change, she cited visits she shared with her deceased latest husband, a man in his 70s whom she married while in prison.

"We had three-day conjugal visits," she said. "There were knives in the kitchen. He never felt threatened or endangered in any way. I loved him so much."

The last person to speak before deliberations was Nelson's 35-year-old daughter, Margaret.

It took her several moments to compose herself before she could read a written statement about not having her father at her wedding, or being able to introduce him to her 8-week-old daughter.

She revealed that her father had invited her to that fateful Thanksgiving dinner to meet his new wife. She had angrily refused, but she said he had remained kind and patient.

Margaret Nelson said the reason she was at the hearing was to "return some human dignity to the man who was my father."

Abandoning her written notes, she tearfully looked straight at the two-person board.

"I don't know the adequate punishment for a murderer who doesn't even leave a family a body to mourn over. But I do know you don't let her out," she said


Woman Who Killed Husband and Cooked Body Denied Parole

By Maria Nkias -

October 5, 2011

A California woman has been denied parole from a 25-years-to-life prison term she's been serving for killing her husband -- and then cooking and eating some of his remains.

Omaima Nelson, a former nanny and model whom prosecutors compared to the fictional cannibal Hannibal Lecter, was convicted in 1993 of second-degree murder in the death of her 56-year-old husband, William. A psychiatrist testified that she was probably psychotic at the time of the killing.

Nelson, a native of Egypt who was 23 at the time of the murder, will not again be eligible for parole for 15 years, or until 2026, according to a prosecutor at her parole hearing, Randy Pawloski.

Nelson was not represented by an attorney as she appeared before parole commissioners at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowcilla, Calif.

She was denied parole partly because, according to Pawloski, she shows no remorse, takes no responsibility for her actions and still blames the victims.

Over Thanksgiving weekend in 1991, prosecutors said Nelson pulled out a pair of scissors and stabbed her husband in their apartment in Costa Mesa, Calif. She then cut off her husband's head and genitals.

According to the DA's office, Nelson cooked her husband's hands in oil, boiled the head and placed it in the freezer. She later used a garbage disposal to get rid of the chopped-up body parts.

Nelson claimed she was acting in self-defense because her husband was sexually assaulting her; prosecutors claimed that she was probably planning to rob him. They said she enlisted the help of two ex-boyfriends to remove her husband's teeth so his remains could not be identified.

The district attorney's office said Nelson "has failed to complete any educational or vocational classes while incarcerated and has failed to abide by prison rules."

Pawloski said Nelson should remain behind bars and is still a threat to public safety.

Nelson previously tried to seek parole in 2006, but was denied after prosecutors argued she was a still a threat.

According to The Associated Press, attorney Terrence Scott, who represented Nelson in the 2006 appeal, said the reason she chopped her husband's body into parts was so that she wouldn't meet him in the afterlife, as Egyptian myth purportedly claims will happen.

"It is certainly one of the most gruesome ... crimes ever committed in Orange County and sometime people need reminding of that," Pawloski told the Los Angeles Times.

Thomas Mooney, Nelson's defense attorney at the time of the trial, said abuse from several men, including her husband, triggered the psychotic event.

"She's been in custody for 20 years and perhaps she should be granted parole because at the time, she said she was being raped by the deceased and acted in self defense, which would reduce the case to manslaughter."

Nelson moved to the United States from Egypt in the late 1980s. She met William Nelson, a convicted marijuana drug smuggler, after moving to California.

"She wanted the lifestyle of Southern California, which was very exciting to her," said Mooney.

Two months month later, the couple married.

Nelson testified during the trial that at an early age, she had a forced circumcision that caused her much pain growing up. When she moved to the U.S., she said she was abused by several men, including William Nelson.

Right before Thanksgiving in 1991, Omaima Nelson and her husband took a trip to several states, including Texas and Oklahoma. On their way back to California, Nelson claimed her husband abused her and threw her cat out of the window of their car. Nelson claimed he also handcuffed her to chairs and sexually abused her.

A psychiatrist who testified during the trial said Omaima Nelson was psychotic and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

Mooney said he believes Nelson killed because of the abuse she suffered 20 years ago, and now deserves parole.

However, the parole commissioners took into account many different factors, including the prison's recommendation and Nelson's record at the prison.

The case is listed as one of the 50 most notorious crimes in Orange County history.

ABC News' Melissa Morrissette and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Omaima Nelson, Woman Who Killed And Cooked Her Newlywed Husband, Seeks Parole

By Amy Taxin -

October 4, 2011

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A woman who killed her newlywed husband and chopped and cooked his body parts over Thanksgiving weekend in 1991 is seeking release from a California prison.

Omaima Nelson, an Egyptian-born former model and nanny, is set to appear before parole commissioners Wednesday at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla where she has been serving a life sentence.

Nelson was convicted of murdering her 56-year-old husband William Nelson in a grisly killing that authorities likened to the fictional slayings of Hannibal Lecter.

Prosecutors said the then-23-year-old killed Nelson and likely plotted to steal from him as she had done with other middle-aged men she had seduced in the past. Authorities said she tied up her husband of less than a month, killed him and dismembered the body, churning his parts through a garbage disposal that neighbors said ran nonstop in the hours after the murder.

Authorities found some of Nelson's body parts stuffed in garbage bags and mixed with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. His hands had been fried in oil and his head boiled and stuffed in freezer, said Randy Pawloski, a senior deputy district attorney in Orange County who prosecuted the case and will argue against her release.

"She's tremendously dangerous," said Pawloski, adding that Nelson sought help from two different boyfriends to try to remove her husband's teeth and dispose of his remains to cover her tracks.

During the highly publicized trial, Nelson took the stand and said she stabbed her husband – a former pilot and convicted drug smuggler – with scissors while he sexually assaulted her. A psychiatrist testified that she confessed to cooking her husband's ribs barbecue-style and tasting them but later denied engaging in cannibalism. He said he believed she was psychotic when she killed Nelson.

Defense attorney Thomas Mooney argued his client was circumcised as a child growing up in a squalid section of Cairo, which made sex extremely painful, and was repeatedly raped and abused by her husband in the weeks after the couple wed.

Jurors found Nelson not guilty of first-degree murder, citing insufficient evidence of premeditation, but convicted her of second-degree murder. They also found Nelson guilty of assaulting a former boyfriend with a gun.

She is serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

Nelson appealed but lost in 1995. In 2006, she sought parole claiming she had found salvation as a born-again Christian and married an older man, who has since died. But parole was denied by commissioners who found her unpredictable and a serious threat to public safety.

Nelson told the parole board she had been living in the fast lane, hopping from man to man and drinking and using drugs. She told a prison-appointed psychologist that she had thought about killing Nelson before carrying out the murder.

"I felt that I was doing the right thing by exercising this judgment as I was killing him," she said during her 2006 parole hearing. "I'm not denying that I did what I did and I'm very sorry for the ... family..."

Terrence Scott, who represented Nelson on appeal, said he doubted she would be released except perhaps to a mental institution. He said she had chopped up her husband in an effort to avoid meeting him in the afterlife in accordance with Egyptian mythology.

Mooney, who represented Nelson during her trial, said prisoners serving life sentences aren't often released but hoped she might be.

"It was a question not of whodunit but what is it," Mooney said this week. "Based on the totality of the circumstances, the fact I think she was abused, and killed in response to that, she should get paroled.


Woman who cut up husband seeks parole today

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

September 28, 2011

She once was a part-time model and a nanny in Egypt.

But not that many years later, Omaima Aree Nelson was being compared by a Costa Mesa police detective to real-life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and fictional cannibal Hannibal Lecter.

That's because sometime during Thanksgiving weekend 1991, when she was 24, Omaima bludgeoned her much-older newlywed husband to death, skinned his torso, cooked his decapitated head, fried his severed hands in cooking oil and placed his body parts in trash bags.

She was arrested by Costa Mesa police, convicted by an Orange County jury of second-degree murder in 1993 and sentenced to 27 years to life in state prison. She has been behind bars ever since.

Her headline-making case was named one of Orange County's most notorious crimes in 2009 by the Orange County Register.

Now, Omaima Aree Nelson wants out of prison.

She is scheduled for her second parole hearing Wednesday at a women's prison in central California. She was rejected in her first bid for parole in 2006.


Slender with olive skin and doe-like eyes, Omaima was a part-time model when pilot William Nelson romanced and married her after just a few weeks in 1991.

Bill Nelson, who weighed 230 pounds and stood 6 feet 4 inches, brought her to live with him in Costa Mesa in 1991.

She was 24. He was 56.

Omaima Nelson later told psychiatrists and her attorney that she had been the victim of horrendous abuse as a child in Egypt when she was molested, beaten and forced to undergo a circumcision, a mutilation of the female genitalia.

She admitted that she went through a series of dysfunctional relationships with other men in the United States before she met Bill Nelson.

The couple married within days of the first meeting, she said, and honeymooned with Nelson's family in the southwest before returning to Nelson's apartment in Costa Mesa.

It didn't take long for the romance to sour, she claimed.

She told a story that her new husband raped and beat her several times, including once when she threatened to leave him. She said she felt isolated with no one to turn to when on Thanksgiving weekend in 1991 during a particularly brutal assault she fought back and killed him with a pair of scissors and an iron.

But Orange County Deputy District Attorney Randy Pawloski argued to the jury in 1993 that it was Omaima who was the predator. He contended that the exotic beauty established a pattern of seducing older men, tying them up during sex acts and robbing them.

Omaima, the prosecutor said, went after Bill Nelson for his money.

Bill Nelson, the prosecutor added, was a kind, loving and trusting man who was taken advantage of by Omaima in the worst imaginable way.

Pawloski argued to jurors that Omaima shackled her husband to a bed during a sex-play ruse sometime during Thanksgiving weekend in 1991, and then murdered him in cold blood with the scissors before she systematically dissected his body.

Neighbors said the garbage disposal inside the Costa Mesa apartment seemed to run continuously for the next two days. She was arrested the day after the bloody Thanksgiving weekend while driving Bill Nelson's red Corvette. She had been going from one ex-boyfriend's house to another, seeking their help in disposing of bags of body parts.

When the coroner's office weighed the accumulated body parts during the autopsy, 80 pounds of Bill Nelson was missing.

Even more troubling, according to Pawloski, was evidence that she told a psychiatrist that she dipped her husband's ribs in barbeque sauce and tasted them.

Omaima Nelson's trial made national headlines and was a sordid segment on dozens of television news broadcasts. The jury found her guilty of second-degree murder, and Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald sent her to prison for 27 years to life.


The Orange County District Attorney's office is opposing Nelson's parole application, contending among other things that she has not taken advantage of self-help programs in prison, has not admitted problems with drugs or alcohol and continues to pose a high risk of dangers to others if released.

To make those points, the office is sending Pawloski to the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, 300 miles north in the Central Valley. It is rare when the prosecutor who obtained a murder conviction gets the opportunity to oppose parole for the killer nearly two decades later. But Pawloski is now a senior deputy who is an assistant head of court. Nobody knows Omaima Nelson's case like Pawloski.

"This was one of the most gruesome and notorious crimes ever committed in Orange County," he wrote to the parole board in September. "The victim ... was abused, defiled and mutilated during and after the offense. ... His murder was carried out ... in a manner which demonstrates an exceptionally callous disregard for human life."

Omaima Nelson, Pawloski warned the parole board, "is very crafty, criminally sophisticated and an enterprising individual. ... Make no mistake – she will tell you anything you wish to hear for her own personal gain.

"Inmate Nelson lacks total insight into her life-commitment offense and has no remorse," Pawloski added. "She should be kept in prison for the maximum denial period."


Second-Degree Verdict for Wife in Grisly Murder

By Rene Lynch - Los Angeles Times

January 13, 1993

SANTA ANA — Omaima Nelson, an Egyptian-born woman who claimed she killed and dismembered her husband because she could no longer endure his physical and sexual abuse, was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder in one of Orange County's most grisly slayings.

Despite feeling some pity for the woman, the eight-woman, four-man jury did not entirely believe her claims about her relationship with pilot William E. Nelson, 56, who was slain over Thanksgiving weekend in 1991 and then butchered in the Costa Mesa apartment the newlyweds shared, the jury foreman said after the verdict.

The Orange County Superior Court jury deliberated six days before acquitting Nelson of first-degree murder, concluding there was insufficient evidence to prove the slaying was premeditated, despite the extensive mutilation of the body, said foreman Famous Hooks, 35, of Fountain Valley. But the jury found her guilty of the lesser offense of second-degree murder.

Jurors were disturbed by evidence presented during the trial, which included tales of bondage sex games, decapitation, castration and even an allegation of cannibalism, said Hooks, who spoke on behalf of the 11 other jurors.

"All I want to do right now is go home and go to bed," said Hooks, who said evidence photos of dismembered body parts will be hard to erase from memory. "You had to see the pictures (of the victim). The pictures were bad enough."

Omaima Nelson, 26, who wept after the verdicts were read, was also convicted of assaulting Robert Hannson of Huntington Beach in November, 1990. Prosecutors charged that Nelson tied Hannson up and demanded money from him at gunpoint, but jurors acquitted Nelson of false imprisonment and attempted robbery.

Jurors also determined that she used a knife in the attack on her husband and used a gun in the assault on Hannson, a former boyfriend. Those determinations will add as much as six years to her sentence.

Nelson faces a maximum penalty of 28 years to life in prison when she is sentenced on Feb. 26, including 10 years in prison for assaulting Hannson with a gun and 18 years to life in prison for the slaying of William Nelson and the use of a knife.

If she receives the maximum penalty, Nelson could be eligible for parole in the year 2007, he said.

During the trial, Deputy Public Defender Thomas G. Mooney portrayed Omaima Nelson as an abused woman who turned on her attacker. Mooney insisted that his client is not guilty, said he was disappointed with the verdict and vowed to seek a new trial for his client.

"She is the victim," he said. "She was the victim of an assault and attempted rape that night."

Deputy Dist. Atty. Randolph J. Pawloski, however, described Omaima Nelson as a "predator." The prosecutor told jurors that Omaima Nelson planned to flee the area with her husband's cash, credit cards and car after the slaying.

The trial was marked by graphic testimony about the dismemberment of William Nelson.

In testimony that left the courtroom audience transfixed, Omaima Nelson told jurors that she stabbed and beat her new husband to death to stop him from attempting to rape her. She said that after the slaying she "freaked out," fell into a trance-like state, and spent 12 hours hacking up the body to simplify disposal.

A neighbor reported constant chopping sounds and grinding of the garbage disposal in the Nelson apartment throughout the night, according to Pawloski.

Omaima Nelson admitted cooking her husband's head, boiling his hands to remove the fingerprints and mixing up body parts with leftover Thanksgiving Day turkey to hide the remains in a trash bin.

Omaima Nelson also admitted castrating Bill Nelson in revenge for his sexual assaults on her. Prosecutors said William Nelson's lower body and torso were skinned.

Statements by Omaima Nelson's psychiatrist proved even more gruesome. Dr. David J. Sheffner, who diagnosed her as psychotic, said Omaima Nelson told him that she dressed up in a red hat, red high-heel shoes and red lipstick as part of a ritual during the nightlong dismemberment.

She also told Sheffner that she ate William Nelson's ribs after cooking them in barbecue sauce.

" 'I did his ribs just like in a restaurant,' " Sheffner quoted Nelson as saying. She said she sat at the kitchen table with Bill Nelson's cooked remains and said out loud: "It's so sweet, it's so delicious. . . . I like mine tender,"' the doctor recalled.

Investigators found Bill Nelson's body parts stuffed in garbage bags, but some parts were never found.

During the trial, Pawloski sarcastically asked Omaima Nelson for help in finding all the evidence. He said investigators had not yet found all the "meat" from the large man.

"We're missing about 130 pounds of Bill. You know where he might have gone?" Pawloski asked.

"No, he was all there," Nelson said.

Sheffner said Omaima Nelson later denied eating her husband's remains. The doctor said he has never seen anything "so bizarre, so psychotic" in his 20 years of practice.

Omaima Nelson was arrested Dec. 2, 1991, after seeking a friend's help in disposing of her husband's body parts. The friend agreed but called police instead.

Omaima Nelson testified that she had suffered sexual and physical abuse while growing up in Egypt, where she was forced to undergo a circumcision, a mutilation of the female genitalia that is practiced in some parts of the world.

Nelson, who came to the United States in 1986, said the operation left her unable to enjoy sex. She said she found herself in one abusive relationship after another. But after meeting William Nelson in October, 1991, she said she agreed to sex several times a day because she believed that she was in love.

The couple married within days of meeting. Omaima Nelson said it wasn't until their honeymoon visit to his family in the Midwest that she learned of her husband's violent streak.

William Nelson would become enraged if she refused his requests for "kinky" sex that involved bondage and would beat her, she testified. He once punished her by throwing her newfound kitten out the car window.

" 'I paid for you, I'm getting what I paid for,' " Omaima Nelson recalled her husband screaming. Omaima Nelson said her husband raped and beat her several times, including once when she threatened to leave him.

She said William Nelson was sexually assaulting her during the 1991 Thanksgiving weekend when she grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed him repeatedly. She said she then beat him with an iron and other objects until he died, then began dismembering the body. Pawloski told jurors that Omaima Nelson was lying about her claims that she was abused. He told jurors that William Nelson was the victim in the case and that the evidence shows that his ankles had been bound during a struggle moments before his death.

"When you have a case like this, it's hard to walk outside a courtroom and say you're happy, but I'm pleased with the verdict and I believe the family is, too," Pawloski said after the verdicts were announced.

Hooks said some jurors believed Omaima Nelson's claims of abuse, while others did not. Despite the sensational nature of the trial, they tried to focus on the evidence, he said.

"It was really a tough, tough decision. We couldn't come back (with a first-degree murder verdict) because we couldn't find the evidence. It wasn't there," Hooks said. "It took us six days. We worked really hard."

Times staff writer Mark I. Pinsky contributed to this report.

Nelson Chronology


Dec. 1: Police investigating a tip find the remains of William E. Nelson, 56, inside an automobile parked outside his Costa Mesa apartment. Nelson's body has been hacked apart, the pieces wrapped in newspaper and stuffed into a trash bag. More body parts are found inside Nelson's apartment.

Dec. 2: Nelson's Egyptian-born wife, Omaima, is arrested on suspicion of murder.


Feb. 21: Omaima Nelson pleads not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.

Dec. 10: Nelson testifies that her husband of five weeks physically and sexually abused her. She claims she killed him in self-defense, castrated him out of revenge and boiled his head and hands. Prosecutors said his lower body and torso were skinned. Her attorney argues she suffered a breakdown as a result of abuse that began in childhood and continued during her relationship with her husband.

Dec. 18: Nelson's attorney asks the jury to disregard the victim's mutilation when considering the verdict because "she was in a psychotic state at the time, she wasn't rational."


Jan. 4: Case goes to the jury.

Jan. 12: After six days of deliberation, the jury finds Nelson, 26, guilty of second-degree murder.

Source: Times files

Researched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times


Woman's Trial Begins in Murder, Dismemberment

By Lily Dizon - Los Angeles Times

December 1, 1992

SANTA ANA — That William E. Nelson's death was grisly, no one denies. Police found parts of his dismembered body wrapped up in newspaper and the rest of his hewed corpse in his bloody Costa Mesa apartment.

That his common-law wife, Omaima Aree Nelson, killed him, also isn't disputed. Her attorney has said that she acted in self-defense after he raped her that night.

But for the first time in open court, the defense and prosecution Monday revealed parts of their legal strategies.

Deputy Public Defender Thomas G. Mooney said he will introduce evidence that Omaima Nelson, 24, is a long-suffering victim of the battered woman syndrome and that the psychological malaise is behind the November, 1991, killing. Mooney said Omaima Nelson had been involved in other abusive relationships before meeting William Nelson, 56, of Costa Mesa, and that he also abused her during their two months together.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Randolph J. Pawloski told Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald in Superior Court that the prosecution will suggest that Omaima Nelson had other motives.

Pawloski said he will try to prove in trial that the deep, bruised rings around both of William Nelson's ankles are evidence that he might have been in bondage during sexual acts with the defendant the night he was killed. Omaima Nelson had twice before tied up her lovers during sex acts, only to hold them up at gunpoint and demand money, he said. The defendant might have been doing the same thing the night of the killing, he said.

Omaima Nelson has consistently maintained that she was trussed to the bed and raped by William Nelson that night.

Fitzgerald tentatively ruled Monday that prosecutors could introduce evidence that the defendant has a history of physically assaulting other people.

Omaima Nelson, an Egyptian national who immigrated to this country in 1986, was arrested Dec. 2 and charged with first-degree murder of Nelson. Police said she dismembered his body and stuffed his body parts into several trash bags.

If convicted, she could face 25 years to life imprisonment.

Nelson, who is just over 5 feet tall and has gained about 40 pounds since her incarceration a year ago, sat impassively during the day's motions. She appeared upset once when, after a break, she was brought back into court in her jail garb. She had worn a white and lime-green shorts suit before the break.

She watched without emotion as prosecutors presented pictures and allegations about the fate of William Nelson.

There were graphic photographs showing the remains of the victim as pieced together by pathologists. Pawloski said William Nelson's hands apparently had been fried. His torso and lower body were skinless.

A neighbor told police he "heard the garbage disposal go on for a long time . . . and constant chopping sounds" throughout one night and into the next morning, Pawloski said.

Police also found a bag filled with other body parts and a broken iron with remnants of William Nelson's scalp and hair, Pawloski said.

Pawloski also showed nude pictures of Omaima Nelson provocatively posing for a photographer whom the prosecutor said was William Nelson. The color photographs were taken shortly before the victim's death, Pawloski said, and showed a smiling Omaima Nelson without signs of physical abuse.

Prosecutors said they plan to prove that William Nelson did not continually beat his wife during their relationship.

Still unclear is the exact marital status of Omaima and William Nelson. At the time of his death, the victim was still married to a Santa Barbara woman. Defense attorney Mooney said he intends to prove that his client and William Nelson were indeed married.

Also yet to be established is the exact date William Nelson was killed. Neighbors at the Costa Mesa apartment building said they last saw the pair together at noon last Thanksgiving. Omaima Nelson went to a friend's house on Dec. 1 to tell him she had killed her husband and she needed his help in discarding the body parts.

The defendant also faces three other felony charges in an unrelated case that will be tried simultaneously with the murder case. She is accused of tying up Robert Hannson, a former boyfriend, and demanding money at gunpoint in November, 1990, in Huntington Beach. She is charged with assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment and attempted robbery in that case.



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