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Perris man accused of murdering wife and stepdaughter held without bail
Michael Barbar was extradited from New Mexico last week
Monday, December 7th, 2009
Issue 50, Volume 13.
Michael Barbar, also known as Atem Mourad, last week was extradited from New Mexico, where he had apparently fled.
The defendant is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and taking multiple lives.
"This all stems from his finding out the little girl was not his,'' said Deputy District Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez outside court.
He said it is highly likely the D.A.'s office will seek the death penalty for Barbar, who allegedly battered his 6-year-old stepdaughter, Tamara, before strangling her, then allegedly strangled his wife, Maysam Barbar, 43, who had been tied up and lying only feet away.
Maysam Barbar had been married to the defendant for at least ten years and had one child, a daughter, with him, according to Rodriguez.
That 10-year-old child, who was not named, was at home, hiding, when Barbar allegedly tied up and killed Tamara and his wife, Rodriguez said.
Their bodies were found Nov. 14 in the Barbars' two-story residence in the 2800 block of Banner Place. Deputies were called to check on the family by Barbar's other stepdaughter, Theadora Khoury, who said Barbar had told her he
killed his wife and Tamara and would soon commit suicide, according to court papers.
Rodriguez suggested the defendant could not handle the apparent betrayal.
Barbar appeared this afternoon for an arraignment before Judge Helios Hernandez, but the hearing was postponed to Dec. 21 to give the defendant time to hire a private attorney.
Barbar's $1 million bail was changed to no bail at the request of the District Attorney's Office.
"He has access to a substantial amount of money, which makes him a flight risk,'' said Rodriguez.
He said the Lebanese-born Barbar was captured Nov. 15 in Deming, New Mexico, roughly 40 miles north of the Mexican border. Rodriguez said sheriff's investigators located the fugitive by tracking signals from his mobile phone.
Man accused of murdering wife and stepdaughter to be arraigned today
RIVERSIDE - A 52-year-old man accused of murdering his wife and stepdaughter at their Perris home is scheduled to be arraigned today in Riverside County Superior Court.
Michael Barbar, also known as Atem Mourad, last week was extradited from New Mexico, where he had apparently fled, and is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
The defendant is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and taking two lives in a single crime.
According to prosecutors, Barbar strangled his wife, Maysam Barbar, 43, and his 6-year-old stepdaughter, Tamara, whose bodies were found Nov. 14 in the 2800 block of Banner Place.
Barbar's 10-year-old daughter, who was in the house at the time, was not harmed.
"We have reason to believe that he recently discovered the 6-year-old was not his biological daughter,'' sheriff's Detective Dean Spivacke said Friday.
Deputies were called to check on the family by Barbar's other stepdaughter, Theadora Khoury, who said Barbar had told her he killed his wife and Tamara and would soon commit suicide, according to court papers. Deputies
found the victims' bodies in their beds.
Investigators later learned that Barbar made a telephone call to a family friend in Las Vegas and admitted committing the murders, sheriff's investigator James Campos wrote in a court affidavit.
An autopsy showed that both victims had been strangled, and the child had "blunt force trauma to the head,'' Spivacke said.
Barbar is accused of waiting until his wife and her daughter fell asleep before killing them. He is also suspected of giving his two teenage stepchildren money to stay out late on the night of the killings, according to prosecutors.
On Nov. 15, Barbar was located in Deming, N.M., and detained by police until he could be extradited, authorities said.
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