Man condemns sailor
for killing his mom, sister
A Singapore man says his brother-in-law took away his chance to fulfill an obligation to care for his mother for the rest of her life.
Ahmad Kasti said that in Islamic society, "the mother is the key to your future ... Mother is the most important thing you have."
Kasti appeared yesterday before a Navy jury of six officers and three enlisted sailors at Pearl Harbor that will decide the sentence of his brother-in-law, Petty Officer David DeArmond, for murder and voluntary manslaughter.
On June 10, 2002, DeArmond stabbed Kasti's mother, Saniah Binte Abdul Ghani, 67, to death and killed Kasti's sister, Zaleha DeArmond, at a Hokulani naval housing unit. DeArmond then had sex with his wife's corpse.
Last month, DeArmond, 33, pleaded guilty to the murder of his mother-in-law and the voluntary manslaughter of his wife. Under the plea agreement, DeArmond, a 14-year Navy veteran, would only have to serve a 30-year jail term rather than life for intentionally murdering his mother-in-law.
Before yesterday's sentencing session, Kasti, 37, said he believed his brother-in-law should have received a "sentence no less than death." By entering into a plea agreement, DeArmond escaped a possible death sentence that is allowed in the federal system for certain capital offenses.
Kasti said that in Singapore such an agreement would have never happened.
"It was an open-and-shut case," he said.
"I am not saying which (judicial) system is better," said Kasti, who is seeking custody of his sister's three children. "But the crime rate is down in Singapore. It (the death penalty) is a deterrent."
Kasti was on the witness stand for 35 minutes. The prosecution showed him five pictures of his sister as a teen-ager and a young adult, a family portrait, his three nieces and nephews and his father and mother at a special Muslin ceremony.
"What do you feel," asked prosecuting attorney Lt. Adam Palmer, "when you look at these pictures?"
"It's sadness in the way they died," Kasti said.
Sitting just a few feet away at the defense table, DeArmond only stared at the table top, showing no emotion.
"All of us has to go, but the circumstances here were unacceptable," Kasti said.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Shanan described DeArmond, a Pearl Harbor hull technician, "as a good sailor who was pushed over the edge."
Shanan described Zaleha DeArmond as "manipulative" woman who had been unfaithful and was looking for a way out of the marriage.
Shanan said he believed DeArmond "snapped" on June 10 when his wife came home drunk at 4 a.m. and taunted him by saying she had sex with another man.