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
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
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 - OCRegister.com
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
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
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
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
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
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 - ABCNews.go.com
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Woman's Trial Begins in Murder,
By Lily Dizon - Los Angeles
December 1, 1992
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
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
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
If convicted, she could face 25 years to life
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
She watched without emotion as prosecutors
presented pictures and allegations about the fate of William
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
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