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Iraqi guilty of murder in daughter's "honor killing"

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona jury on Tuesday found an Iraqi immigrant guilty of second-degree murder for running down his daughter with a Jeep because she had become too Westernized.

Faleh Hassan Almalelki struck and killed his daughter Noor Almaleki, 20, in a Phoenix valley parking lot in October 2009, and also injured her boyfriend's mother Amal Khalaf.

After four days of deliberation, the six-man, six-woman jury at Maricopa County Superior Court also convicted him of aggravated assault for crashing his vehicle into Khalaf, and two further counts of hit and run.

He faces 12 years to 54 1/2 years in prison, officials said.

Police said Almaleki told detectives and witnesses after the October 2009 incident that he was angry at his daughter because she was "too Westernized," defying Iraqi and Muslim values.

The daughter had shunned an arranged marriage, and was living with her boyfriend and his mother, police said. Authorities had characterized the crime as an "honor killing" to punish the daughter's behavior.

County prosecutor Laura Reckart said an enraged Almaleki hid in the parking lot for her and her boyfriend's mother and then "revved and raced that car right into them."

Defense attorney Elizabeth Mullins painted Almaleki as a caring father who loved his daughter even though she caused him grief, crashing the family van and moving in and out of the house repeatedly.

Mullins said when Almaleki saw his daughter with her boyfriend's mother, he made a "split second" decision to drive by and spit at her, but instead veered out of control and struck the pair.

She said he left the scene because his family told him to, and later told police that if his daughter died he would kill himself.

Following his daughter's death, Almaleki fled to Mexico and later to London, where he was taken into custody upon his arrival.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Writing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Greg McCune)

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