by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
On Tuesday, March 29, Shehada Issa, 69, told Los Angeles police arriving at a gruesome scene where the body of his 38-year-old Gay son was lying outside the family bungalow. He had been blasted with a shotgun. Inside, the man's mother lay in a bathroom, stabbed to death.
Police say that Issa confessed that he had shot his son, but explained it was in self-defense, saying he had heard noises inside the home and, suspecting a burglar, grabbed a shotgun, only to find himself confronted by his son, Amier, who he said threatened him with a knife.
Detectives say that the story Issa told them just didn't add up. Particularly, there was no knife found next to his son's body. Instead, police say they suspect Issa fatally shot his son after killing his wife sometime during the previous 24 hours.
The case spawned national headlines over the weekend after the L.A. County district attorney's office announced that Issa had been charged with murder in his son's March 29 killing and that it was committed 'because of the victim's sexual orientation.' The office said Issa 'threatened to kill his son on prior occasions because he was Gay.'
The allegation that sexuality was a motive in the killing horrified many and highlights a wider pattern of violence against LGB people. Sexual orientation was the primary motivating factor in one out of every four hate crimes.
The number of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation rose by 14% to 108 between 2013 and 2014, the report said. Hate crimes targeting Gay men rose 31%.
Each day, the Los Angeles LGBT center has about 100 LGBT youngsters who have been abused or abandoned by their families or who are forced to flee because they don't feel safe at home, Jim Key, a spokesperson for the center, told the Los Angeles Times.
'Whatever the truth of this case is,' Key said, 'the sad reality is that our LGBT youth, and people of all ages, remain targets for abuse and violence, even by family members.'
Police say that Issa's anger over his son's sexuality was a contributing factor, but not the underlying motivation for the killing. Generally, they didn't get along with each other, said officials.
The home, where Amier's body was found outside in the front yard, had been a source of turmoil since Amier moved back in with his parents, two years ago. The LAPD said officers had been called to the home to help evict Amier, whose parents were attempting to sell the house against their son's wishes. The son had even vandalized the house, according to police.
A rambling tirade posted on Amier's Facebook page 10 days before his death said he worried that his parents, brother and sister were 'literally controlling me in my sleep' and that 'they tell people to rape and molest me and make it seem like I enjoy that.'
According to court records, Amier was convicted in San Diego of assault with a deadly weapon in 2010. He had slashed his ex-boyfriend across the face with a knife, leaving him hospitalized. Amier, who fled to Las Vegas during jury deliberations, was sentenced first to treatment at a state mental hospital and then to three years' probation with further mental health treatment.
Deputy District Attorney Emily Cole, who is handling Issa's prosecution, told the Los Angeles Times her office decided there was sufficient evidence to support a hate crime allegation against Issa. She said authorities had information from Amier's siblings about previous threats their father made about Amier's sexuality.
'We have enough, obviously, to prove he killed the son, but the motive and the reasoning and everything is very much an ongoing investigation,' she said.
To prove the hate crime allegation, she said, prosecutors must show that Amier's sexuality was a motivating factor in the killing, not that it was the only factor.
No charges have been filed in the killing of Rabihah Issa, 68, Cole said. Detectives are still trying to piece together what happened to the woman and the prosecution is looking for evidence to build a case against Issa.
Currently, Issa is being held without bail at Men's Central Jail. His arraignment is scheduled for April 11.
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