Chaudry Rashid was accused of strangling his 25-year-old daughter because she planned to divorce her husband from an arranged marriage. A jury convicted Rashid in May 2011 on murder and assault charges and he was sentenced to life in prison. He appealed his convictions and sentence to the Georgia Supreme Court, saying the lower court committed several errors.
His lawyers argued jurors were mistakenly allowed to see the videotaped conversation, which took place in a police interrogation room and was recorded by a hidden camera.
The state argued other evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Rashid killed his daughter, and the video merely confirmed it. The state also argued that law enforcement never gave the family the impression that the conversation would be private.
In an opinion published Tuesday, Justice P. Harris Hines wrote that contrary “to Rashid’s contention, the evidence was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the malice murder of his daughter.” The justices also said it was unreasonable for Rashid to expect privacy in a police interview room.
When Rashid moved to the United States from Pakistan after his wife died, he left his four children with his brother. Once he married a U.S. citizen, Rashid had his children join him. In 2002, his daughter Sandeela Kanwal agreed to an arranged marriage with her cousin, the son of the uncle who had raised her in Pakistan, so that he could also move to the U.S.
Because of delays in the immigration process, her husband didn’t arrive in Atlanta until 2008 and then left almost immediately for Chicago. The 25-year-old felt she had fulfilled her duty to her family and contacted a divorce lawyer in July 2008. A friend testified that Kanwal feared her family before and after she secretly filed for divorce.
Police who responded to a call at the family’s home found Rashid distraught, sitting in the driveway smoking a cigarette. Kanwal was dead on her bedroom floor in her Walmart uniform, dark marks visible on her neck. Remnants of a burned cord were found in the garage.
Following an interview at the police department, Rashid asked to speak with his family. He spoke in Punjabi and Urdu and talked about his daughter’s death. During the conversation he said: “I put the rope around her neck and squeezed her.”
“She disgraced our family.”