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Woman Denies Slaying Her Lover : Killing: Omayma Aref Nelson, accused of dismembering man, says she is a victim of circumstance.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Omayma Aref Nelson, the Costa Mesa woman accused in the macabre murder of her lover, said Saturday that she had an unhappy and sometimes abusive relationship with the man but denied killing him or dismembering his body.

Giving her first public comments, the 23-year-old Omayma Nelson said in an interview at the Central Women’s Jail: “I couldn’t have done such a thing. I’m not a killer. I’m a victim of circumstance.”

While the Egyptian-born woman clung to her assertions of innocence, the interview was riddled with memory lapses and apparent contradictions in her description of what happened to William E. Nelson, 56.

Omayma Nelson, who came to the United States in 1986 as Omayma Aref Stainbrook, was arrested on suspicion of murder last Sunday after police found parts of William Nelson’s body in trash bags in the couple’s Costa Mesa apartment and in his red 1975 Corvette. She allegedly stabbed him to death and offered a friend $75,000 to help her dispose of the dismembered body, the friend said in an interview. Police have offered no motive.

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Still unclear is whether the woman was married to William Nelson, a convicted marijuana smuggler and a computer programmer at a Tustin mortgage firm.

The suspect maintained that she married William Nelson in Phoenix on Nov. 1 after meeting him just two days earlier. But no marriage license has turned up in Arizona, and the lawyer for his estranged wife in Santa Maria says their divorce was never finalized.

In the interview with The Times, the suspect initially said she didn’t really know why she was in jail. “I think it’s pertaining to traffic (violations),” she said.

Asked about the murder, she hid her face in her hands and said: “Nelson is dead? Oh my God. . . . I wish I knew what happened--I just don’t remember.”

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But she later acknowledged that she knew William Nelson was dead and that police had accused her in the murder. She described how Costa Mesa police found her at a neighbor’s apartment last Sunday. “I was in shock when (an officer) said, ‘You killed your husband.’ ”

Dressed in a blue Orange County jail uniform and crying on occasion, Omayma Nelson said she had difficulty remembering details of the case because she was “blacking out” last weekend after taking a tranquilizer to help her sleep.

An occasional nanny and would-be model, Omayma Nelson gave this description of the events leading to her arrest:

Within two days of meeting her in late October, William Nelson pressed her to marry him, saying that they could have children, she said. She would not say how they met. Though reluctant, she eventually accepted the proposal because she wanted to “settle down” and get her life together, she said.

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Since coming to Southern California several years ago from Texas after a failed marriage there, Omayma Nelson had been in jail at least twice--for auto theft and drunk driving--and has had other legal troubles as well. So two days after she met William Nelson, she accepted his offer to start life anew, and the couple went to Phoenix to get married, she said.

The two lived together in Costa Mesa, but “I wasn’t happy,” she said. “I began having second thoughts that we got married so soon. We shouldn’t have got married so quick.

“There was a lot of fighting,” she said. “And his attitude changed.”

The problems reached a breaking point last Saturday night--the night before her arrest, she said.

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“I didn’t feel well to have sex with him that night, and he climbed on top of me and took what he wanted,” she said. “I was raped.”

She said William Nelson bruised and cut her during the attack.

Later in the interview, however, she said it was dark and she wasn’t sure if it was William Nelson who raped her.

Afterward, she said, she heard people--"two women and three guys"--come into the apartment while she was asleep on the couch. A number of people had keys to the apartment, she said. She suggested that they may have killed William Nelson, although she said she does not know how or why.

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“He had enemies,” she said.

“Someone set me up--drugged me--and I woke up and (the police) thought I did it,” she said.

Omayma Nelson denied that she ever admitted the murder or offered a neighbor money to help her dispose of the remains. The only talk of money, she maintained, came when she asked the neighbor for $5 to put gas in the car.

Instead of loaning her the money, the man took her car for about an hour and put gas in it himself. She suggested that this may have been when the body parts were put in the Corvette.

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If she gets out of jail, Omayma Nelson said, she wants to continue pursuing a career in modeling and perhaps write a book on her life and “the people that have hurt me.”

She faces a Dec. 20 arraignment date on a charge of murder. Her family does not know about her current troubles, she said. The family still lives in Egypt--one younger sister lived in San Clemente until recently--and she said she feels very alone.

“I just want to get out of this place,” she said as she sat in the visitor’s booth at the jail. “What’s going to happen to me? I have no idea. I don’t have anyone to help me. . . . But I’m going to beat this and get my life back together. . . . God will stand by me.”


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