Hader Nasim agreed with the hit man – a big truck would do the job on his pretty young pregnant wife. Nasim said he’d make sure she would be on her morning walk, no later than 7:30, and it sounded like he really wanted something bad to happen to her.
“Yeah, something heavy,” Nasim told the guy. “Go down at least a block from the house. Try to run her over.”
“OK,” the hit man said. “Big truck. I’m going to run her over. You said three or four times?”
“Two times if she’s dead,” Nasim answered. “At least three or four if she is not.”
Then Nasim thought about it a little more and asked, “You can’t run over over and then just like back up and stay on top of her for like a minute, or 10 seconds?”
“Yeah, like you run her over, she’s on the ground, you back up on her, and you just stay on top of her?”
The hit man, played by Sacramento Police Detective Alvaro Sanchez, got it all on tape, and the next thing Nasim knew after the conversation in the parking lot of the Home Depot on Florin Road was that he was under arrest for solicitation to commit murder and the even more serious charge of attempted murder.
Nasim, 31, who helped his family run a couple of gas stations and manage rental properties they own, is on trial in Sacramento Superior Court in a case that Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard sent to the jury Tuesday.
The defendant’s wife, Sarah Bukhari, sat in the second row of the courtroom while Deputy District Attorney Keith Hill and defense attorney Linda Parisi gave their closing arguments.
Bukhari grasped her hands tightly and at times dabbed a tissue to her eyes. She had heard the story before and testified in the case. But it wasn’t easy for her, even on the retelling, as Hill walked the jury through how Nasim paid $700 to a family employee to buy a gun or a car and to go find a hit man to either shoot or run over the young woman the family had flown in from Pakistan on an arranged marriage.
Instead of following through on the death plan, the employee, who is in a witness relocation program, reported Nasim to Sacramento police. They then set up the Sept. 12, 2012, undercover operation in the Home Depot parking lot where Nasim paid $900 more to Sanchez. The defendant also put together a fairly strong case against himself in the conversation captured on the undercover detective’s recording.
“I have too much to lose,” Nasim said. “Nobody can find out.”
The prosecutor said Nasim and Bukhari were having marital difficulties and were headed toward a divorce, despite their short time together and the fact she had become pregnant. He had already been divorced once, Hill said, and the cultural shame of another dissolution would have been too much for him.
“So how do you solve a problem with your wife?” Hill asked the jury. “You kill her. If she’s dead in an accident, problem solved.”
Parisi conceded her client is guilty of soliciting his wife’s murder. Conviction on that charge carries with it a prison term of three, six or nine years. Nasim’s real problem is the attempted murder count. If the jury convicts him on that one, the sentence is seven years to life, and it was the attempted murder allegation that Parisi sought to refute.
“We have heard a lot of words,” she told the jury. “And words can hurt. They shattered a young marriage. They changed lives. Words can hurt. Words have consequences, legal consequences, and now we ask you to find out, what do those words mean?”
The defense lawyer conceded that Nasim talked about big trucks and told Sgt. Sanchez what his wife would be wearing. Yes, he told the hit man how Bukhari would be leaving their San Sebastian Way home in the Valley Hi area about 7:30 a.m. for her walk to nearby Mesa Grande Park.
But the only thing that really mattered, Parisi said, is what Nasim intended to do, and that at the last moment, he wanted to call off the attack.
Unfortunately for Nasim, Sacramento police arrested him first in the Home Depot parking lot.
It was the employee who first got Nasim going on the death plot, Parisi said, and it was the undercover hit man who intimidated and entrapped her client into agreeing with the hired killing.
In his rebuttal, Hill countered, “How can you be entrapped to do something you’re already doing?”
Hill said Nasim made himself and his intentions fairly clear in his statements to the hit man. According to the prosecutor, one of Nasim’s remarks didn’t need much parsing: “Just make sure she’s dead.”