Judge upholds sentence for killer Potomac doctor

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Local,Naomi Jagoda

A Montgomery County judge ruled Thursday against reducing the 30-year prison sentence of a doctor convicted of killing his wife with a hammer in their Potomac home.

Zakaria Oweiss, 68, was convicted in 2003 of second-degree murder for the 2001 death of his wife, Marianne.

On Aug. 15, 2001, Marianne Oweiss was struck on the back and top of her head at least seven times with a rubber mallet hammer. The victim was a real estate agent, and her husband was a doctor who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology.

Prosecutors said that Zakaria Oweiss killed his wife because he couldn't deal with her alleged infidelity. But during the trial, the defense blamed the couple's older son, Omar, who was 20 years old at the time of his mother's death.

In court on Thursday, Zakaria Oweiss told the judge, "I don't know, your honor, if I did it or not."

According to the doctor, he was on his way to the hospital on the day of his wife's death, felt ill and received an SOS call from his wife. When he went home, he was threatened and attacked. He later found himself next to his wife in a pool of blood.

The defendant also said that he never agreed to allow his trial lawyer to blame Omar for the murder. Omar was not present at Thursday's hearing. But the doctor's other son, Amin, spoke in support of his father, as did a few other of the doctor's relatives.

"He is a good person," Amin said. "I miss him. I love him."

In asking for a reduction in his sentence, Oweiss' lawyer, Michael Lytle, argued that the doctor's sentence should be lowered because he has health issues. The defendant suffers from illnesses including coronary artery disease and diabetes and has been recommended to have surgery.

Lytle also argued for a sentence reduction because Oweiss has been "an absolutely model inmate." In prison, he has refereed soccer matches, written a medical column and become a facilitator in a program focused on alternatives to violence.

But prosecutor Donna Fenton asked that the defendant's sentence remain unchanged. She said that Oweiss had health issues when he was sentenced and that the 30-year term is fair given the nature of the offense.

Judge Michael Pincus said that the crime was "particularly vicious and particularly brutal." He denied to modify Oweiss' sentence because "the sentence imposed in this case fits the crime."

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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