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Husband, female friend indicted in killing of Muslim wife during Ramadan stroll

From Chris Boyette, CNN
updated 7:11 PM EDT, Thu June 14, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Muslim woman was shot and killed in 2011 while she was walking with her spouse
  • Her husband, who was wounded, first said assailants shouted "slurs about terrorists"
  • Authorities say the husband later told police he had arranged the shooting
  • A grand jury Thursday indicted the husband and a female friend

(CNN) -- A New Jersey grand jury handed down a 17-count indictment Thursday accusing a man and his female friend with shooting and killing the man's wife -- and also shooting the man himself, in what prosecutors say was an attempt to blame a murder on "terrorists."

Kashif Parvaiz, 26, and Antoinette Stephen, 27, were indicted in Morris County Superior Court in the 2011 death of 27-year-old Nazish Norrani, Parvaiz's wife.

The victim was shot to death, and Parvaiz was shot four times, as the couple pushed a stroller carrying their 3-year-old son during a nighttime walk. The child was unharmed.

The killing occurred while the couple was visiting Norrani's family to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said at a news conference shortly after the killing that the fact that Noorani, a Muslim, was killed during the holy month of Ramadan "made this case especially compelling to us."

A release from the prosecutor's office said that while being treated for his wounds, which were not life-threatening, Parvaiz had described the shooters as three men who shouted "slurs about terrorists" at the couple before fleeing on foot.

But within hours of the crime, investigators believed "it was obvious" the victim's husband was behind the attack, Bianchi said.

Noorani had sent text messages to her brother describing escalating hostility and abuse in her marriage, the affidavit says, warning that "someday u will find me dead but its cuz (sic) of kashi ... He wants to kill me."

And according to an affidavit filed in the case, Parvaiz subsequently told police he arranged for Stephen to kill his wife and wound him while the couple was out for a walk on August 16, 2011.

The indictment also charges the pair with conspiracy and unlawful possession of a weapon in addition to child endangerment and child abuse because the 3-year-old had been in jeopardy.

"This case was extensively investigated with witnesses interviewed and significant evidence gathered in numerous states. We now look forward to presenting our proofs in court and again extend our sympathies to Nazish Noorani's family for such a tragic and senseless loss," Bianchi said Thursday.

Attempts to reach the attorneys for Parvaiz and Stephen were unsuccessful Thursday.

According to the prosecutor's office, if convicted, they could be sentenced to life without parole.

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