A Fairfax County judge on Tuesday dismissed the second-degree murder charge against a man who had been accused of fatally assaulting his 82-year-old father, ruling that investigators had not gathered adequate probable cause to move the case forward.
“The evidence fails to meet the burden required for this hearing,” the judge said.
Sherif Hassanein, one of Samy Hassanein’s brothers who had previously expressed skepticism over the murder allegation, said after the hearing that he was happy his brother would be released from custody. He noted, though, that Samy Hassanein had significant mental health struggles, which authorities had not addressed.
“Most of the weight just came off my shoulders,” he said.
Police had previously alleged that Samy Hassanein fatally assaulted his father, whose body was found at the bottom of a basement staircase in the Rose Hill-area home where both men lived.
Terry Leach, a crime scene technician with the major crimes unit of the Fairfax County Police Department, testified at the hearing Tuesday that investigators found blood traces on the basement stairs, and bloody shoe prints leading up to an area outside of one bedroom. A detective said Samy Hassanein stayed in that room.
Kenner Fortner, with the Fairfax County police, said investigators also found a red-stained sock in the front seat of Samy Hassanein’s white 2015 Toyota Camry, and it later tested positive for blood.
In her closing argument, prosecutor Kennedy Nyhoff pointed to the footprints that led to Samy Hassanein’s bedroom, and noted that no shoes were located with traces of blood.
“The question is, ‘Where did those shoes go?’ The only person who had the opportunity of leaving the home to dispose of such shoes is the defendant,” Nyhoff said. “The only person that the evidence points to is this defendant. The defendant in this case did kill his father.”
But Amy Jordan, Samy Hassanein’s defense attorney, countered that the evidence didn’t connect Samy Hassanein to a killing, and perhaps didn’t suggest a killing occurred at all. Investigators found blood about four feet away from Talat Hassanein’s body — which Jordan argued might have been consistent with him having fallen down the stairs.
“There’s nothing that connects any of this with my client other than the fact that he lived in that house,” Jordan said.
Detective David Vesser testified that Samy Hassanein conceded in an interview that he went down the basement stairs, but stopped at the last step and did not step onto the floor. Frieden, the judge, said that prosecutors had not presented evidence to contradict that story.
“If I had evidence as to the actual location of the accused at a time that was inconsistent with what he told police, that might be a different story, but I do not,” he said.
Talat Hassanein, who was born in Egypt in 1940, loved tailoring, a trade he first took up as a soldier in the military in Cairo, his family said previously. He came to the United States in 1971 and worked on his uncle’s farm in Waldorf, Md., for a few years until returning to tailoring in the mid-1970s, when he opened a store in D.C., Sherif Hassanein said.
Talat Hassanein and his wife retired around 2000 and split their time between the United States and Egypt. He tried to instill in his sons the value of hard work and a good education, Sherif Hassanein said.
Sherif and Tarik Hassanein, another of Samy Hassanein’s brothers, said that their father tried to have Samy Hassanein admitted to an institution to treat his mental health problems in January, but that Samy insisted that he was fine. The pair were nonetheless dubious about the police account of what happened to their father.
“Do I think my brother is capable of doing something bad? Absolutely. I will never lie about that,” Tarik Hassanein said in a previous interview. “But do I think, in this particular instance, that this was my little brother? Absolutely not.”