Then, on Aug. 15, 2001, their father, Zakaria M. Oweiss,allegedly crushed his wife's skull with a hard rubber mallet in a rage over her infidelity. Now the divide between the brothers is a chasm, as each has taken a side in their father's murder trial in Montgomery County. Omar Oweiss was the star witness for the prosecution, while Amin Oweiss,in an interview Friday, called his late mother a "tyrant" and his father "an angel," a man incapable of homicide. His brother, he said, could have been the killer.
In the courtroom, as Zakaria Oweiss, 58, listened from the defendant's chair, his attorney also sought to shift suspicion to Omar Oweiss -- a strategy that prosecutors said had exceeded the bounds of decency.
Brother against brother, father vs. son. Acrimony, adultery and violence shattered the Oweiss family, and now the broken pieces have been laid bare in Circuit Court. After two weeks of testimony and arguments in the case, jurors will reconvene tomorrow to deliberate on a verdict, to sift through the family wreckage for the truth about a killing.
As described in court by witnesses and lawyers, the brothers are very different.
Omar Oweiss,who declined to be interviewed for this story, was a feet-on-the-ground achiever, a young man who earned money as a tennis instructor and headed off to college, initially aspiring to be a physician like his father. He communicated well with both his parents and was especially close to his mother, Marianne Oweiss.
Amin Oweiss,a Gonzaga High School soccer player who worked part time delivering pizzas in the summer, was the rebellious brother. Impulsive and taciturn, he fought with his mother over curfews, school work and household rules. His father, tolerant of his younger son's growing pains, often took Amin Oweiss's side, triggering clashes with his wife over how to raise him.
On the day Marianne Oweiss,49, was bludgeoned in the couple's brick, two-story home, Omar Oweiss was in the house, in the 9500 block of Kentsdale Drive. He testified that after he heard his mother scream for help, he ran downstairs and found her body, then saw his father pacing in the driveway, a heavy mallet in one hand. He said his father asked him to lie to police.
During cross-examination and in his closing argument Friday, defense attorney Peter Davis portrayed Omar Oweiss as a logical suspect in the slaying. Each son had a motive for murder, Davis said, because both were angry with Marianne Oweiss over her extramarital affairs, which hastened the family's ruin. In the months before her death, Davis said, both sons regularly spewed foul invectives at their mother. Amin Oweiss was not at home at the time of the killing -- but his older brother was.