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Dr. Yazeed ESSA

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Poisoner
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 24, 2005
Date of arrest: October 7, 2006 (in Cyprus)
Date of birth: September 6, 1968
Victim profile: Rosemarie Essa, 38 (his wife)
Method of murder: Poisoning (cyanide-laced calcium pill)
Location: Gates Mills, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years on March 9, 2010
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Former Ohio doctor gets life for wife's cyanide poisoning death

By Emanuella Grinberg - CNN

March 9, 2010

A former Ohio doctor was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for poisoning his wife with cyanide five years ago.

A Cleveland jury convicted Yazeed Essa last week of aggravated murder for poisoning Rosemarie Essa, his wife and the mother of his two children, with a cyanide-laced calcium pill.

Essa, 41, will be eligible for parole in 20 years, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Bill Mason said. His crime occurred before Ohio sentencing laws were changed to give judges discretion in determining when a convicted murderer is eligible for parole.

Dressed in an orange jailhouse jumpsuit, Essa did not betray an emotion as Judge Deena Calabrese lamented that she could not hand down a stiffer sentence.

"I regret that you have the benefit of committing this crime under the old law," Calabrese told Essa.

"You took an oath to preserve life and you destroyed your family," she said. "I cannot imagine the evil that you have done to these people, especially your children. It is my great hope and the only that I can think of at this moment that they forget you ... and that whatever legacy you had is wiped away."

The six-week trial included testimony from more than 60 witnesses who told the story of a philandering doctor, his many mistresses and an international manhunt that crossed three continents and ended with his arrest in Cyprus in October 2006, 18 months after his wife's death.

"What do you say to a person that murders the mother of his children, a murdering coward with no heart, no compassion, no remorse?" Rosemarie Essa's mother, Virginia DiPuccio, said at her son-in-law's sentencing hearing Tuesday.

"All she wanted was children and a husband that loved her back and you took that away. She didn't deserve it," DiPuccio said as other relatives sat in the packed courtroom audience, dabbing tears with tissues.

Essa fled the United States in March 2005 after police questioned him about his wife's death. He was arrested in Cyprus on October 7, 2006, for using fake travel documents. In January 2009, Essa was extradited to Cuyahoga County, according to the prosecutor's office.

Defense attorneys pointed to a lack of physical evidence linking Essa to the tainted supplements and urged jurors not to convict him for his playboy lifestyle.

The defense also attempted to cast suspicion on Essa's mistresses. Two of them testified, one saying she never loved Essa and another saying she believed him when he promised to be her soul mate.

The 38-year-old mother of two and former nurse was driving to the movies in the family Volvo on February 24, 2005, when she felt ill, passed out and hit another vehicle before stopping against a curb.

Before she crashed, she called a friend from her car and told her that she was beginning to feel sick to her stomach and wondered whether a supplement her husband had given her was making her ill.

Jurors heard from the friend, Eva Gardner, along with two of Essa's mistresses and his brother, who said Essa admitted to killing his wife.

DiPuccio said her daughter made the phone call so he wouldn't get away with murder.

"It didn't go your way," she said, as a stone-faced Essa listened. "She got you, Yaz, and the Essa curse ends here today. We have Rosie in our memory. She's in our hearts and with us always."

 
 

Yazeed Essa sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years

By Leila Atassi - The Plain Dealer

March 9, 2010

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Street vendors and barflies in Beirut have heard the story of how and why former Gates Mills doctor Yazeed Essa killed his wife with calcium capsules emptied and refilled with hand-crushed cyanide.

The man who harbored him during his days on the run said that Essa bragged constantly about his handiwork to whomever would listen.

But Tuesday, days after a Cuyahoga County jury found Essa guilty of aggravated murder, Rosemarie Essa's brothers demanded to hear the story, too -- from Essa himself. Rocco and Dominic DiPuccio stood before their former brother-in-law, challenging Essa to come clean and ask for forgiveness.

"Are you man enough?" Dominic DiPuccio said. "Are you? Forget that appeal. Stop wasting your brother's money. This is your last chance to save your soul. Are you a man or not?"

But on his attorneys advice, Essa remained silent, avoiding eye contact and swiveling nervously in his chair.

Common Pleas Judge Deena Calabrese sentenced Essa, 41, to life in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years -- placing the capstone on a trial that ranks among the most highly publicized in the court's history.

Essa's attorneys, Steven Bradley and Mark Marein, said their client plans to file an appeal. They asked, however, that he be declared indigent and assigned new legal counsel to work on his case. Essa's brother, Firas, had bankrolled the defense because Yazeed Essa's assets are frozen pending a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the DiPuccios.

Assistant County Prosecutor Steven Dever asked the judge to order Essa to reimburse taxpayers for $41,000 -- the cost of extraditing Essa from Cyprus when he was captured in 2006 after 18 months on the run.

The judge granted the motion. But first she invited Rosemarie Essa's friends and family members to speak about the woman they call Rosie and the cavity left in their lives when she died.

Rosemarie Essa's parents, Rocco and Gee Gee DiPuccio, told the judge how lucky they were to have four beautiful children, who grew into well-rounded, compassionate adults.

But on Feb. 24, 2005, Rocco DiPuccio said, their luck ran out when Yazeed Essa handed their 38-year-old daughter the contaminated pill.

"I've seen a lot of court cases where they talk about closure," DiPuccio said. "I never understood that word until now, and I still don't understand it because there is no closure. The only thing I'm hoping is that from now on, maybe there will be less nights when my wife cries herself to sleep."

Gee Gee DiPuccio called Essa an evil, murderous coward and wished him misery in his lifetime behind bars.

"You see, Yaz, our family has something you don't have," she said. "Heart, love, compassion and strength in a higher power that will get us through this."

Others invoked Essa's conscience and wondered aloud how it could bear the weight of what he had done. They reminded him of the two children he left behind, Armand, 9, and Lena, 7, who are now being raised by Dominic and Julie DiPuccio. And they spoke of the children's suffering and confusion in adjusting to life without either of their biological parents.

Dominic DiPuccio read a statement he wrote from the perspective of Essa's children, listing all the ways in which they have grieved in their mother's absence from holidays and landmark events in their lives. He vowed to raise the children as his own and said he hopes their memories fade of the man they refer to as their "old dad."

The memory of "Mommy Rosie," however, will survive, he said.

"My children, our children, have had to face fear and confusion that no child should ever have to face," DiPuccio said. "I miss my sister terribly each and every day. She will never get to hug her children or feel the sun on her face again. So I see no reason why (Essa) should ever get to as long as he lives."

Judge Calabrese asked Essa if he wished to remain silent. And the once suave playboy, now dressed in bright orange prison scrubs, paused for several seconds before answering, "Yes."

Then the judge told Essa that he has such little respect for women that she doubted her words would have much of an impact on him at all. Calabrese said his lack of emotion or remorse is unfathomable and that she regrets that the law would not allow her to sentence him to life in prison without parole.

"I cannot imagine the evil you have done to these people, especially your children," Calabrese said. "It is my great hope that they forget you and that whatever legacy you have is wiped away... I am so glad that you will be leaving my courtroom and that I hopefully will never have to look upon you again."

 
 

GUILTY: Jury delivers verdict in Yazeed Essa aggravated murder trial

By Leila Atassi - The Plain Dealer

Friday, March 05, 2010

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Like a curtain call at the conclusion of an epic performance, jurors returned to a crowded courtroom Friday to thunderous applause after pronouncing Yazeed Essa guilty of the aggravated murder of his wife.

In a rare turn of events, all 12 jurors and four alternates chose to address the media and the family and friends of Rosemarie Essa, who died in 2005 when her husband slipped her a calcium supplement laced with cyanide.

Yazeed Essa, stony-faced upon hearing his fate, had been handcuffed and escorted from the courtroom before the jurors crowded around a podium, stacked with the microphones of local and national TV crews. They took turns explaining with candor, emotion and some measure of levity what went on behind the closed jury room door during their three-and-a half days of deliberation.

The jury foreman told reporters that the evidence influenced each juror differently. And when asked what took them so long to arrive at a consensus, the foreman said the panel took seriously its charge to weigh all of the evidence before rendering its decision and did not even take their first vote until Friday morning.

"Two hundred four pieces of evidence," he said. "And giving him the benefit of the doubt."

Prosecutors believe Essa, 41, killed his wife on Feb. 24, 2005, to end a marriage that stood in the way of his love affair with nurse Michelle Stevens, formerly Madeline, with whom he worked as an emergency room doctor at Akron General Hospital.

Essa's attorneys, Mark Marein and Steven Bradley, argued throughout the trial that Stevens was just one of many women with whom Essa maintained discreet and casual sexual relationships. And he did not love her, despite a love letter and e-mails to the contrary, his attorneys claimed.

Essa's lawyers even went so far as to say that police did not properly eliminate Stevens or another mistress, Marguerita Montanez, as Rosemarie Essa's true killer.

Marein and Bradley declined to comment on their way out of the courtroom Friday, saying only that they are disappointed with the verdict.

Jurors said that they believed Essa had fallen for Stevens in a way that was different from the other women in his life, and the defense team's counter-theory lacked reinforcement.

"It ended up being pretty weak," one juror said. "They never put either Marguerita or Michelle in the house before Rosemarie died."

The testimony of Firas Essa also proved to be damning for his brother, the jury said. Firas Essa, who answered prosecutors' questions evasively at first, later returned to the witness stand with a changed demeanor and told jurors that his brother confessed to killing Rosemarie Essa. Jurors said Firas Essa's second testimony seemed "genuine and real."

"Initially, he was very controlled and guarded, emotionally and physically," one juror said. "When he came back, he seemed to kind of let his guard down and speak the truth."

Jurors chuckled when asked about the credibility of testimony from others in the cast of characters -- including Jamal Khalife, who was living in Lebanon, a fugitive from his own criminal past, when he took in Yazeed Essa in the summer of 2005. Khalife testified that Essa, who spent his year in Lebanon drunk or high on drugs, bragged daily about having murdered his wife and delighted in his status as one of America's Most Wanted.

Essa's attorneys sought to undermine Khalife's credibility by pointing out inconsistencies in his testimony and previous statements to police.

But jurors said they took the time to read the entire transcript of Khalife's interview with law enforcement officials and found it to be largely consistent with the story he told in court.

Earlier in the week, the jury had requested during its deliberation to examine and pull apart a calcium capsule similar to the one Essa gave his wife on the day she died. Jurors said Friday that they wanted to know firsthand whether it took any special skills to empty the capsules, and they discovered that it is easy to do.

However, they did not spend time deliberating over the state's lack of evidence linking Essa directly to the cyanide purchase -- a critical point for Essa's defense throughout the trial.

"He's obviously well-connected," a juror concluded. "He's a smart guy. That wasn't an issue for us. We worked with the facts we had and common sense."

The jurors added that Essa's actions immediately before and after his wife's death had far greater influence on their decision than the fact that he fled the country. One juror referred to the 18-month long international manhunt for Essa that ended in Cyprus as "the icing on the cake."

But one detail weighed heavily upon the panel during the past six weeks -- Essa's facial expressions, void of any sign of sadness or regret over the loss of his wife or having not seen his two young children in five years. Even when Assistant County Prosecutor Steven Dever projected a photo of Rosemarie Essa with her arms wrapped around the children, Yazeed Essa did not flinch.

"I was watching him the whole time," one juror said. "When your kids aren't there you're going to miss them, you're going to cry. He hadn't seen these kids in five years. But he had no expression, no tears, nothing."

For that reason, the same juror said she stared Essa down as she entered the courtroom for the verdict announcement.

"I looked him right in the face," she said. "He was just standing there like, 'I think I beat this here.' But uh-uh."

The juror's commentary drew laughter from Rosemarie Essa's family, the DiPuccios, and the third round of applause for the panel.

And before the jurors filed from the room for the last time, Rosemarie Essa's brother, Dominic DiPuccio, stood and thanked them tearfully for their commitment to the case and to finding the truth among hours of conflicting testimony.

The jurors nodded and said it was difficult to watch the DiPuccio family suffer in the courtroom and to bear the burden of the life-altering decision they were about to make.

"The emotional experience for us has been incredible," a juror said, placing his hands over his heart and fighting back tears. "But what you guys have been through -- we can't even imagine."

In the moments after the verdict was announced -- bringing five agonizing years to an end -- a flood of emotions washed through the courtroom, catching the DiPuccios, lawyers, detectives, even journalists in the current. Assistant County Prosecutors Dever, Anna Faraglia and Matt Meyer stood together, shaking hands and embracing members of the DiPuccio family, as if part of a receiving line at a wedding reception.

"God love you," Dever whispered to Rosemarie Essa's mother, Gee Gee DiPuccio, as he wrapped his arms around the sobbing mother. "You know, you had a beautiful daughter. You know that? I didn't know her, but from what I learned about her, she was beautiful. I'm sorry that this had to happen to you. May God bless you."

Common Pleas Judge Deena Calabrese is scheduled to sentence Essa Tuesday at 2 p.m. He faces life in prison without parole eligibility for 20 years.

Plain Dealer Reporter Michael Sangiacomo contributed to this story.

 
 

Dr. Yazeed Essa

By Tricia Romano - TruTV.com


A Plan Gone Awry

Yazeed Essa spent nearly five years trying to delay the reckoning. In those years, he had partied on three different continents, assumed a false identity, bedded women in faraway places, lounged on beaches and gambled like a tycoon.

But no matter what he did, his fate proved inescapable: he would be brought home to the less glamorous city of Gates Mills, Ohio, to face a decidedly less glamorous fate: life behind bars for the murder of Rosemarie Essa, his wife of nearly six years, in perhaps the coldest way possible: cyanide poisoning.

It wasn't supposed to have been this way.

On February 24, 2005, Rosemarie Essa was supposed to take the short and fast route to meet her sister Deanna at the movies. She was supposed to take the highway. That way, by the time the cyanide pill her husband had given her had kicked in, she would have been going 55 or 65 miles per hour. The crash would have been full force. She would have likely died almost instantly from the injuries sustained in the accident. She wouldn't have had the time to call her friend Eva McGregor to tell her that she felt funny. She wouldn't have been able to relay that her husband had insisted she take a calcium pill before leaving a supplement since she was trying to get pregnant again.

She would have been dead on arrival. No difficult questions would have been asked. Yazeed Essa would have been a free man, free to have sex with his many mistresses, his veritable harem of nurses besotted with him, and various other so-called friends with benefits. He would have been free of the woman who was the mother of his two children, the woman he called Amana, after the refrigerator brand because, he said, he found her so icy. He wouldn't have had to pay a red cent during or after a potentially protracted divorce. In fact, he probably would have been paid insurance money.

But murderers are often cheap. And careless.

No, this wasn't the way things were supposed to turn out.


A Suspicious Death

Instead, for whatever reason, Rosie took the slow way to the movies. She took a long, winding road, with slow speeds. She called Eva McGregor 10 minutes after leaving and told her she felt really strange. McGregor testified in court: "She had taken a calcium pill right before she left theher house. She didn't really want to take it. And she said, as she was in it, you know, rushing out the door, he said, 'Here, take it. Take your calcium.' 'Now, I don't know if that's what's making me sick.'"

McGregor thought it was weird, too, and kept replaying the conversation in her head. Rosie hung up and called her husband, whose phone went straight to voicemail.

And then, as Essa had predicted, his wife crashed. But instead of suffering brutal injuries, her SUV merely grazed another car and wound to a stop. She was in a fender bender, with minor scrapes and bruises. According to Dateline NBC, Tara Tamsen, a medical technician who witnessed the accident rushed over and immediately sensed something was not right.

Rosie began vomiting in the car. She quickly lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital, where her killer, her husband, was working in the emergency room.

Yazeed Essa was a doctor.

He was supposed to save lives, not take them.

He watched impassively as the ER team struggled to save his wife's life, the life he had imperiled and the life he expected was gone for good. He watched her family sobbing uncontrollably. He exhibited strange behavior for a man who should have been alarmed or grieving. Several people testified that Essa was emotionless; he did not cry, he did not ask questions, and when he sent out an email announcing his wife's death, it was perfunctory. Dominic DiPuccio, Rosie's brother, told Dateline that the email read: "Just wanted to let you know that Rosie died yesterday in a minor car accident. She will be missed.'"


The Calcium Pill

Rosie's death was perplexing to the doctors. It was clear to them that her injuries weren't enough to kill her. Something else was wrong. Rosie's brother Dominic DiPuccio had called Eva McGregor to tell her about his sister's death, not knowing that she and Eva had spoken before the crash, and Eva was startled. She was likely the last person to talk to Rosie, and she Dominic about her conversation with Rosie while she was driving. She told him about the calcium pills.

He was in disbelief. He and the rest of the family couldn't believe that someone they loved possibly had willed the death of their sister. The realization nearly tore apart Rosie's two brothers and their wivesthey met in a church parking lot to discuss their next move, agonizing over whether to mention the suspicion to authorities.

They reached a truce. The would simply ask the coroner to do a complete examination of the body; if something suspicious was found, they would relay what they knew about the calcium pills.

But they didn't count on Eva McGregor talking to other people. According to the Dateline report, "Bitter Pill," by coincidence, McGregor had run into her neighbor Christine DiCillo a nurse who had worked with both of the Essas and relayed her phone call with Rosie. DeCillo wasted no time and called in the tip to the police who were already investigating the accident as suspicious.

Rick Bell, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor told The Grand Rapids Press, that Yazeed Essa learned the night after the murder that people knew about the pill he had given her. " His jaw drops, and his eyes open according to witnesses, and he's shocked that they know about these calcium pills," Bell said.

For many, it was the first crack in a facade that had seemed perfect to the outside world. But Yazeed Essa, it was soon revealed, was a master at pretending to be one thing while being another. He was a man with many faces, and many lives. On the face of it, he was in a happy marriage with a beautiful devoted wife and two childrenpart of a large extended family that included his brothers and sister, and his wife's big Italian family.


Man with Two Faces

Essa was an immigrant's sonhis father was a grocery store owner of Palestinian descentwho had earned his riches the good old-fashioned American way, through sheer hard work, perseverance and a bit of cunning.

While he was a med student studying anesthesiology (he later switched to become an ER doctor), he and his brother Firas had opened a paging company in 1996. They were even featured in a story in Cleveland's daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer.

Yazeed cut a dashing figure: tall and broad shouldered, with bright green-blue eyes, an olive complexion and a head full of thick brown hair. He was widely seen as a catch by the nurses and doctors at the hospital where he worked as a resident.

But if people peered closer, they would have seen something much different than what he presented to the outside world.

That pager company? Two years after he was quoted in The Plain Dealer that they made $2 million a year, he and his brother, were indicted, along with 9 others for tampering with billing records and theft. Though Essa's record was expungedit is not clear if he was found guilty or notthat was just the beginning of his problems.

He was also an alcoholic. He'd had his medical license revoked in 2004 when he'd skipped out on a mandated drug test and his required quarterly interview. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Essa's license was reinstated a month later on a "probationary basis."

And, it was revealed during the trial, he was a philanderer. He had a seemingly endless string of women, whom he would often take to his other apartment, one that he used for a satellite dish company he owned with his brother. And, according to The Plain Dealer, his brother Firas testified that his brother once slept with six women in a 24-hour period.

He had even, allegedly, given his wife herpes, Eva McGregor testified later at the trial.

After his wife's murder, he brazenly hired two of his mistresses to be his kids' daytime and nighttime nannies. He told one of them, Michelle Madeline (nee Stephens), that they would be able to come out as a couple after time had passed, perhaps in the fall.

But his scheme never got that far.


A Change in Plans

With the accident not going as planned, and the police investigating the death as suspicious, Yazeed was on high alert.

A few weeks after Rosie's death, on March 17, he got a call from the police. They wanted him to come to talk about some calcium supplements. According to a Dateline report. Essa calmly explained that he had given Rosie calcium pills, because she was getting older.

"Two weeks before I was over at my mom's house, and I thought about this as well. My mom had this older woman over and they were talking about osteoporosis and whatnot. And I'd been toldRosie was therethat we should probably, you know, she's over 35, she should probably start taking calcium supplements."

According to Dateline, he took the detective Gary McKee over to his house to hand over the bottle of calcium pills. McKee met one of the mistresses, Marguerita Montanez, who was then serving as the daytime nanny for the kids.

Essa handed the pills over and the detective left.

He then did what most guilty men do. He panicked.

But first, he had a party.

As Rick Bell told The Grand Rapids Press, "It can be described as nothing other than a going-away party."

That night at 4:00 a.m., he called Deanna, his sister, and asked if she could watch the kids. There had been another car accident: a brother of a close friend in North Carolina. He wanted to be a good friend.

The next day, no one could reach him.


A Life On The Lam

Deanna, Rosie's sister, had called the friend to ask him how his brother was doing, and the friend told him there was no accident.

In fact, according to a report in The Plain Dealer, Yaz had not headed south, but north to Detroit where he was met by his brother Firas and a few other people where they blew $50,000 at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino.

Then Yazeed disappeared.

While the family was frantically searching for him, Yazeed Essa had transformed from a small-town doctor living a normal life to a fugitive on the lam. He had passport under the name, "Maurice Khalife," and he had figured out how to move in underground circles.

He had hooked up with a man named Jamal Khalife in Beirut. According to Dateline, Khalife's brother was Essa's connection. The Khalifes obtained the false passport and set him up in an apartment.

Later, Khalife testified in court that Essa had told him everythingthe cyanide, the accident, and his escape.

The Associated Press reported that, over his years as a fugitive, Essa spent time on three continents. According to the office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, he had spent time first in Cyprus, then Lebanon, and had traveled to Greece, Syria, Miami, and eventually back to Cyprus.

While overseas, Essa played the part of an international, jet-setting playboya handsome doctor who frequented nightclubs and parties. According to The Plain Dealer, Firas testified that his brother would also hook up with women he met online.

It was in Cyprus where his run of luck would come to a stop.


The Manhunt Begins

Back in Ohio, the family had gone into a full-fledged panic. As soon as Deanna found out that Essa lied about going to his friend's, the family went to the house, and scoured it for clues. Dominic told Dateline, that they found an envelope that looked like it had contained a passport: " I said, he's gone. He's gone," said Dominic DiPuccio to Dateline.

DiPuccio filed a missing person's report and uncovered credit card statements that showed Essa had purchased plane tickets to Cyprus.

Soon afterward, the coroner's report was announced. There was evidence of potassium cyanide in Rosie Essa's body. Her confusion, her nausea, her dizziness, while talking on the phone now made total sense. But nothing else made sense for her family. Everything they had ever believed about Yazeed Essa had come to a full stop. There was little doubt Essa had killed Rosie.

On April 18, the Akron General Medical Center ruled Rosie's death a homicide. Because Ohio has a death penalty, Essa's intention to remain overseas was solidified, no matter how many public pleas the family made for him to come home.

Three months after the murder, the FBI and the Secret Service were called in to help track Essa. They traced him to Lebanon, where they could see his comings and goings. But because Lebanon doesn't have an extradition treaty, they couldn't do anything to Essa.

In October 2006, the FBI's Phil Torsney and his team got an unexpected gift from Yazeed Essa: he took a flight to Cyprus, which does have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

Police detained him at the airport, a year and a half after the murder.

However, it turns out to be the beginning of a long battle. Cyprus, while it will extradite fugitives to the U.S., it won't do so if there is a death penalty involved.

Because of the death penalty, Essa fought tooth and nail against coming home.


A Fight For Extradition Rivaling Roman Polanski

Starting in November 2006, Essa began a protracted legal battle. For nearly three years, his lawyers pushed back against all requests to return him to the U.S.

Despite Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason repeatedly stressing to the press, "we're not seeking the death penalty," Essa's lawyer, Larry Zukerman, told the AP that the charges could be amended anytime to include the death penalty. Essa at that time wasn't being charged with first degree murder, but aggravated murder, which doesn't include the death penalty as a sentence.

Finally in June 2007, over two years after the murder, a court in Cyprus ruled that Essa could be sent to the U.S.

But Essa dug in his heels and fought back, filing an appeal in February 2008.

"Our client has instructed us to seek recourse to the European Court of Human Rights if this appeal is rejected," lawyer Marios Georgiou told The Associated Press.

But nearly 10 months later, in December 2008, Essa dropped his appeal. He would be coming home.

The next month he was returned to the U.S. It was nearly four years since his disappearance. But the long, arduous road to justice was not yet over. First, his court date was continuously postponed because, it turned out, prosecutors were trying to cut a deal with his siblings, Firas and his sister Runa Ighneim.


Essa Siblings: Let's Make A Deal

It was revealed in the course of the investigation that Firas Essa and his sister, Runa Ighneim, had had a substantial hand in helping their brother escape. Firas had purchased the plane ticket to Beirut and bought pre-paid cell phones to communicate with each other. His sister, in addition to lying in court, had mailed Essa an FBI fingerprint card so he could obscure his identity.

Both had sent money orders to their brotheraccording to The Plain Dealer, as much as $2.4 million had been transferred from their satellite dish businesses in 2005 and 2006.

Eventually, their potential sentences (up to 11 years for Firas and six months for Ighneim) were greatly reduced: Firas received five years probation, a $25,000 fine and house arrest, while his sister received one year probation, 90 days of house arrest, and a $2,000 fine.

But at the trial, the prosecution got more than they bargained for when Firas testified about his brother's guilt, and his misbehavior.


Trial and Sentence

On January 25, 2010, nearly five years after the murder, Yazeed Essa met his fate.

With each passing day, the trial became more and more sordid, as the details about his affairs, and his open resentment of his wife spilled outdetails related by his brother and some of his mistresses.

There was an attempt by the defense to pin the murder on one of the mistresses, Marguerita Montanez. The defense insisted that because she had been infatuated with Essa she had even scheduled her wedding on the same day that Essa married Rosie.

There was an attempt to portray the cyanide in the calcium bottle as the result of a tampered or defective bottle.

Neither ploy seemed to gain much traction with the jury.

On March 5, 2010, Yazeed Essa finally had to face the jury. The event that he had spent nearly five years avoiding had come to pass. He was found guilty of murdering his wife.

He received a maximum life sentence and received the news stone-faced.

Despite the defense's efforts, the jury didn't buy their scenarios of tampered bottles or murderous mistresses.

The jury's logic for convicting Essa was simple. An innocent man doesn't flee.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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