Convicted of the 2009 murders of his wife and the 6-year-old girl he had been led to believe was his daughter, Michael Barbar was back in court today for the start of the penalty phase in which the same jury that found him guilty must decide if Barbar deserves to die for his crimes.
On Monday, Barbar’s surviving daughter Tarah Barbar, 13, took the stand and told the jury that she still loves her father despite the terrible crimes he committed when Tarah was sleeping in her bedroom on November 13, 2009. When asked how she would feel if her father was executed, she said “I would feel horrible.” Tarah said she would visit her father in prison and hopes that he lives as long as he can.
Barbar’s 21-year-old stepdaughter Theadora Khoury broke down crying on the stand, telling the jury that the crimes “destroyed me.” But she begged for her stepfather’s life on her younger sister Tarah’s behalf: “She’s suffered enough,” Khoury told the court.
At trial, Barbar took the stand in his own defense to explain why he killed his wife Maysam “Michelle” Barbar and her daughter Tamara. He said he was inebriated with drugs and alcohol when he confronted his wife about the DNA test that proved Tamara was not his daughter: “She didn’t even say sorry. Makes me feel really low, with nothing to live for,” he told the jury. Barbar said he never meant to harm his victims — rather that he wanted to leave his wife of 12 years destitute before leaving the US, but lost control of himself.
The prosecution finished its case yesterday, and the defense is expected to complete its witnesses by Wednesday at which time the seven-woman, five-man jury will begin deliberating Barbar’s fate.