Murder trial expected to start today

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

A jury has been selected, and testimony is expected to begin this morning, in the trial of a Pakistani man accused of strangling his adult daughter, who allegedly wanted out of her arranged marriage.

Clayton County prosecutor Jason Green and defense attorney Alan Begner spent all day Monday selecting a jury to hear the case against Chaudhry Rashid. Rashid, 59, is charged in the July 2008 death of his daughter, Sandeela Kanwal, 25.

Police said he choked her to death with a bungee cord in their Jonesboro home after picking her up from her job at Wal-Mart.

Rashid is being assisted a certified interpreter, Ismail Charania, of Lilburn, but neither man spoke during Monday's proceedings. Charania said he is tasked with translating for Rashid when he is addressed the judge or when witnesses are testifying.

Rashid sat quietly between co-counsel Meeta Taro Dama and Charania, showing no emotion as prospective jurors were questioned.

The questioning centered around arranged marriages, divorces and relationships between adult children and parents. While several jurors said they knew someone in an arranged marriage, one man told the court his own marriage had been arranged.

Green said he expects the trial to take a day or two, but Begner estimated about a week.

Eight of Rashid's relatives showed up in court Monday, but were not allowed to stay because all potential witnesses are being sequestered until after they testify, or are released the judge.

If convicted of murder, Rashid faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.