Defendant Says His Wife Treated Him ‘Like a Slave’ : Court: Moosa Hanoukai testifies he killed her in a fit of rage. He tells the court she forced him to sleep on the floor of their Woodland Hills home.
Sobbing throughout his testimony, a man who admittedly killed his wife in a fit of rage told a Superior Court jury Thursday that his wife had abused him emotionally and treated him “like a slave” during much of their 25-year marriage.
Moosa Hanoukai, 55, faces a prison sentence of 15 years to life if a jury convicts him of second-degree murder for beating his wife to death with a wrench in March, 1993.
Through tears, Hanoukai testified Thursday that he did not object to being forced to sleep on the floor of the couple’s Woodland Hills home because his wife intimidated him. “She would start arguing, cursing, cursing my mother and father,” Hanoukai said in Farsi, translated by an interpreter.
Asked by defense attorney James E. Blatt why he did not buy his own bed, Hanoukai responded sobbing, “she wouldn’t let me.”
While Blatt has acknowledged that his client is a killer, he has argued that Hanoukai should be convicted of manslaughter instead of murder because he was the cowed victim of years of intense abuse by a wife who controlled almost every aspect of his life.
Additionally, Blatt is presenting a “cultural defense,” in which he hopes to convince the jury that Manijeh Hanoukai continually challenged his client’s manhood, a violation of the family’s Iranian-Jewish culture in which males are dominant. Divorce, Blatt said, would have brought shame to the family.
Wearing a dark blue prison jumpsuit and rarely raising his eyes as he testified, Hanoukai, an Iranian immigrant, testified that he endured a marriage in which he was constantly being ordered around and was the frequent target of his wife’s vitriolic attacks.
“It was ‘do this,’ ‘do that,’ ‘don’t do that,’ ‘sleep here,’ ‘don’t sleep here,”’ Hanoukai said in Farsi, bursting into tears and resting his head on his arms. “I became her slave.”
Hanoukai testified that after his brother-in-law criticized his spending habits for buying a deck of playing cards in 1978, Hanoukai turned the couple’s clothing business over to his wife to avoid confrontation.
After the family came to the United States in 1982, they bought a home in Woodland Hills and opened a women’s clothing store in Huntington Park. Almost immediately, Hanoukai said, his wife began forcing him to sleep on the floor and prohibited him from spending any money. Hanoukai told the court he even had to ask her for money to buy cigarettes.
“Whatever it was she was telling me, I would obey,” he testified. “I didn’t make any personal decisions.”
His wife, Hanoukai said, would call him stupid in front of others. “ ‘Shut up,’ she would say. ‘You’re garbage. You’re filth. You’re nothing.’ ”
Hanoukai said that one day while his mother-in-law was visiting, his wife told him, “I kicked you out of the bedroom and I’ll kick you out of the house,” at which her mother began laughing.
Hanoukai’s testimony will continue today .