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San Jose: Son found guilty in parents’ murder in Evergreen

SAN JOSE — Capping a bizarre case where a San Jose man on trial for murdering his parents represented himself, a jury found the defendant guilty on Thursday, rejecting his strategy of blaming his younger brother for the slayings at their Evergreen home.

Hasib bin Golamrabbi is arraigned at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice in San Jose, Calif., Friday, April 29, 2016. On Thursday, Golamrabbi was found guilty of murdering his parents at their Evergreen home. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group Archives) 

Hasib bin Golamrabbi showed no emotion when the court clerk read aloud the verdicts in a Hall of Justice courtroom Thursday morning, and as the ethnically diverse jury of nine men and three women affirmed their belief that Golamrabbi committed two murders with enhancements for using a firearm and lying in wait when he fatally shot Golam Rabbi, 59, and Shamima Rabbi, 57 the morning of April 23, 2016.

Golamrabbi, clad in a charcoal-colored suit, initially said “Not at the moment” when asked by Judge Vanessa Zecher if he had anything to say after the verdicts were read. But after the jury left the courtroom, he asked procedural questions about what will happen at the Nov. 16 sentencing hearing, including prodding about how he might get the jury’s verdict set aside.

Zecher told Golamrabbi that such a question could be raised at sentencing. Golamrabbi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Jurors declined to comment on the verdict as they filed out of Zecher’s courtroom, and no family members of the Rabbis were present in court Thursday. San Jose police Sgt. Ken Tran, one of the lead detectives in the case, attended much of the trial but deferred comment to prosecutors.

Santa Clara Co. Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci discusses the murder verdict of Hasib bin Golamrabbi outside the Hall of Justice in San Jose on Oct. 25, 2018. (Robert Salonga/Bay Area News Group) 

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci, speaking on behalf of Carlos Vega — who prosecuted the nearly month-long trial but was not available for the verdict reading — thanked the jury for their “careful consideration” of complex testimony while keeping the trauma to the Rabbi family in focus.

“We’re satisfied that justice has been done in this case,” Kianerci said. “But a couple is dead, one son was orphaned, and another was convicted of killing them. There are no winners here.”

Kianerci also said about the Rabbis: “They were a lovely couple who was very well regarded in the community. It truly is a tragedy.”

Golamrabbi, 24, spent much of his defense trying to blame the killings on his younger brother Omar, who was 17 at the time, as a sociopathic mastermind who compelled the defendant into taking the fall for him.

According to San Jose police detectives, Golamrabbi shot his father repeatedly in the garage of their Lucas Court home and then killed his mother with a single shot to the back of the head. Golamrabbi then drove with Omar to Oakland to attend the Kraken Con anime convention, and returned to San Jose the next morning. He left Omar in the Evergreen area before driving away.

Golamrabbi was arrested by police a few days later in Tracy at the home of his friend Matthew Kuch, who testified during the trial that Golamrabbi confessed to the murders to him, and initially said he was coerced by an unnamed past abuser and serial home intruder. Kuch also said that Golamrabbi hatched a plot to record a social-media video where Kuch would impersonate an assailant and simulate beating him, to add credence to his intruder account.

The defendant’s brother Omar testified that he was in the bathroom when he heard Hasib and his father arguing in the garage over a recurring conflict about his education and employment and the rules of the house.

“I heard my dad ask ‘What did you do?’ and he shot him continuously,” Omar testified about his brother.

Omar said he then heard his mother try to intervene and Hasib telling her to hide, then moments later, shooting her in the head with their father’s hunting rifle. The brother was initially arrested in connection with the killings but later dropped from the case for lack of evidence.

Hasib bin Golamrabbi was found guilty Thursday of murdering his parents Shamima Rabbi, 57, left, and Golam Rabbi, 59, who are pictured here in an image from Golam Rabbi’s Facebook page. The couple was found dead in their San Jose home on April 24, 2016. (Facebook) 

Golamrabbi alleged Omar committed the killings and that the entire plot, including telling police that an intruder coerced him, was the brainchild of his younger sibling, who he characterized as disaffected, spoiled, and disillusioned enough with their parents to have an equal or stronger motive to kill them.

The defendant testified that he took the blame for the killings to fulfill a promise to his late mother to protect his kid brother.

Hints of motives for the killings have bubbled up since the Rabbis died, including their disdain for Golamrabbi’s passion for cosplay — the hobby of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, cartoon or video game — perceive favoritism of Omar, and potential conflict over his sexuality. But no definitive motive was established by police or at trial.

“We may never know the true motive,” Kianerci said Thursday.

Golamrabbi offered a narrative of events that while asserting his innocence, often failed to track logically and exhibited lapses in memory for previous witnesses’ testimony — including his own.

Vega also noted that the prosecution didn’t know about Golamrabbi’s defense theory until shortly before the trial.

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The defendant also did not have a convincing explanation for a jailhouse letter he is said to have sent to Omar that appears to instruct him and Kuch not to cooperate with the prosecution, saying only that he did not believe the letter was authentic.

He testified that on the morning after the murder, he followed his younger brother’s “suggestions,” and  wrote cryptic messages throughout the house to convince investigators that an intruder committed the killings.

Vega also questioned the defendant about why he staged a crime scene when he could have directly presented the intruder theory to police or family members.

“Criminal activity is not my expertise,” Golamrabbi responded. “Whatever I did, there was no logic behind it.”

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