PHOENIX - The surviving victim of a hit-and-run prosecutors are calling an "honor killing" is emerging as a hero, after taking the stand in the trial of Faleh Almaleki Thursday.
Amal Khalaf told the jury through an interpreter when she saw Almaleki driving towards her and his daughter, Noor Almaleki, Khalaf ran in front of Noor to protect her.
Khalaf recalled the day she and Noor saw Almaleki come into the Department of Economic Security building, where Noor was translating for her. Khalaf said his arrival shocked and frightened her, and that she suggested to Noor that they tell someone.
"Because when I saw him, it was like, surprise, his zip code is different than mine," she said through the interpreter. "But she told me to calm down, he's not going to harm us."
Almaleki then turned and left, according to the testimony.
Khalaf said she followed him outside and drove around the parking lot looking for him so she could talk to him, but could not find him.
She said she was so nervous seeing him there, that she locked her keys in the car. She said she went back to get Noor, and the two started walking across the parking lot to a restaurant while they were waiting for Khalaf's son to bring them a spare set of keys.
Khalaf said she didn't see Almaleki again until "he came from behind the building."
"He was close to me," she said through the interpreter. "He was driving so fast."
Khalaf said Almaleki looked angry as he swerved to hit the two women.
To protect Noor, Khalaf said she had her hands up and shouted, "No, no, no, no."
"I thought he was not going to hit me," said Khalaf. "I was protecting her so she can get away from the car."
Last week, Almaleki's attorney said he was trying to spit on Khalaf to show his disrespect, but when Khalaf ran out in front of his Jeep, he tried to swerve around the women to avoid hitting them, and ended up accidentally striking them both.
Noor later died of her injuries.
Khalaf, who was in the hospital for two months, has undergone multiple surgeries and said she still has pain from the collision.
Khalaf's testimony was also about the relationship between the two families, who had met in their native Iraq. Khalaf said when her family settled in Phoenix, Almaleki called to ask if there were jobs. Khalaf said she invited the Almalekis to Phoenix and the family moved in with them for a few months.
She said years later, when she found Noor sleeping in her car, she took her in, but would take her home when Noor's parents called and demanded she return their daughter.
Prosecutors say Noor fell in love with Khalaf's son, Marwan, and that her parents were furious about her running away from home and the fact that she was dating, especially since she had a husband through an arranged marriage who lived in London.
Khalaf said Almaleki and his wife were angry and often called her, telling her to bring back their daughter.
She said she and her family moved after Almaleki and his wife, Seham, showed up at their home. Khalaf said she knew they were upset and did not let them in.
"I did not open the door," said Khalaf. "She opened the window, Seham. She opened the window and she entered."
Khalaf said her daughter was so scared she called the police. The officers who arrived after that call are expected to take the stand next week.
The defense did not cross examine Khalaf, who is the main witness in the case.
The trial continues Monday.
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