Crime

This Kennewick father threatened his wife for days, police say. She was stabbed 23 times

Abdul Rahman Sweidan, 47, is on trial in Benton County Superior Court for an Aug. 30 attack. Prosecutors allege he stabbed his wife, Dania Z. Alhafeth, 23 times inside their Kennewick apartment.
Abdul Rahman Sweidan, 47, is on trial in Benton County Superior Court for an Aug. 30 attack. Prosecutors allege he stabbed his wife, Dania Z. Alhafeth, 23 times inside their Kennewick apartment. Tri-City Herald

A Kennewick father of four is on trial for an August attack that left his wife with 23 stab wounds.

Abdul Rahman Sweidan, 47, appeared Monday morning in Benton County Superior Court before an initial pool of 100 jurors.

By the end of the day, 20 people were excused by Judge Joe Burrowes for hardships and other reasons mentioned in their eight-page juror questionnaires.

Lawyers and the judge are hoping to seat a 12-member panel with two alternates by Wednesday. The trial is expected to last nearly three weeks.

Sweidan is charged with attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Prosecutors allege the crimes happened within sight or sound of the couple’s toddler, and involved domestic violence and the use of a deadly weapon.

Sweidan has denied the allegations. His attorneys, Michael Vander Sys and Eric Scott, do not plan to call any witnesses.

Sweidan apartment
Dania Z. Alhafeth was stabbed 23 times on Aug. 30 at her Olympia Street apartment. She has filed divorce from her husband, Abdul Rahman Sweidan, whose trial has started in Benton County Superior Court. File Tr-City Herald

Sweidan, who is from Syria, has been assigned two Arabic interpreters for the trial. The interpreters trade places next to Sweidan every 20 minutes.

Deputy prosecutors and defense attorneys said Monday that immigration will be a question for potential jurors during selection to make sure they do not have feelings against Sweidan or his wife, Dania Z. Alhafeth, because of the couple’s status.

The family in 2015 came to the United States legally through World Relief as refugees, the lawyers said. They first emigrated to Jordan because of the war in their home country.

Deputy Prosecutor Brian Hultgrenn told the court he plans to introduce in trial background information on the couple’s relationship, including the “pattern of power and control that (Sweidan) exercises over the victim.”

Alhafeth filed for divorce in late October.

Hultgrenn said it started in Syria, then ramped up after the family came to America, to “a culture where women have more rights and choices and freedoms.”

He alleges that in the days leading up to the attack, Sweidan threatened to kill his wife before she could divorce him or leave him. The breaking point was Aug. 30, Hultgrenn said.

Alhafeth, 40, filed for divorce in late October. Her petition states the couple married May 23, 1996, in Homs, Syria, but the marriage was “irretrievably broken” on Aug. 30 when Sweidan “attempted to murder” her.

Their four children range in age from 2 to 18, the petition states.

Police responded Aug. 30 to Central Park Apartments on South Olympia Street for reports of a resident pleading for help. A neighbor told dispatchers that a woman claimed her husband was attacking her.

Alhafeth was taken to Trios Southridge Hospital in Kennewick with severe injuries.

Hultgrenn said it started in Syria, then ramped up after the family came to America, to “a culture where women have more rights and choices and freedoms.”

She had deep gashes on the front and back of her torso and on her face. Some of the cuts reached her internal organs, court documents said.

The toddler, who was found locked inside a bedroom, had a spot of blood on his shirt, documents said.

At about the same time the neighbor was calling 911, Sweidan showed up in the hospital emergency room with cuts to his hands.

He eventually was identified as Alhafeth’s husband, and told medical staff his wounds either were from cutting meat or from a machine at work, court documents said.

When officers met up with Sweidan at the hospital, he “seemed calm and did not ask about his wife,” documents said.

Sweidan was booked into the Benton County jail later that evening. He is being held on $1 million bail.

The criminal case was on hold for five months while a state psychologist reviewed Sweidan’s mental health. It was determined in February that he is competent to stand trial.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531, @KristinMKraemer

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