HOUSTON — Defense attorneys are claiming that court-appointed prosecutors have financial incentives to seek the death penalty against a Jordanian-born man accused in two slayings that authorities allege is driven by his daughter's decision to marry a Christian.
Ali Irsan's defense team is seeking to remove pro tem prosecutors from the high-profile Houston case before the trial later this month, the Houston Chronicle reported . Irsan's lawyers, Allen Tanner and Rudy Duarte, filed a motion this April requesting prosecutors' dismissal.
Irsan is facing a capital murder charge in the 2012 shooting death of an Iranian women's rights activist, Gelareh Bagherzadeh. Police allege that Irsan, his wife and his son carried out the killing of Bagherzadeh, 30, near her parents' home in Houston.
Irsan's wife, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh, and his son, Nasim Irsan, face murder charges in the Bagherzadeh case.
Prosecutors allege that Irsan also played a role in death of his son-in-law, Coty Beavers, 11 months later.
Authorities have said both slayings were motivated by Irsan's ire over his daughter marrying Beavers, a Christian. Bagherzadeh was a Christian convert and friend of Irsan's daughter, Nesreen Irsan.
Irsan's daughter had a protective order against her father after leaving home in 2011 and marrying Beavers, 28, according to testimony during a hearing on federal fraud charges.
Irsan, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was sentenced to federal prison in 2015 for scamming the Social Security Administration.