Attorneys set a tentative Feb. 6 trial date for a man charged with murder in connection with the beating and strangling of his wife and 6-year-old stepdaughter in their Perris home.
Michael Barbar, also known as Atem Mourad, could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering his 43-year-old spouse, Maysam, and her daughter, Tamara, in what prosecutors said was a premeditated attack nearly two years ago.
Barbar appeared today before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez, who set a trial date after receiving tentative commitments from Deputy District Attorney John Aki and Deputy Public Defender Eric Keen that they would be ready to go at that time.
A progress hearing is set for Oct. 17.
Barbar, who remains in custody without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and taking multiple lives.
Maysam Barbar had been married to the defendant for at least 10 years and had one child — a daughter — with him, according to prosecutors. The girl was at home, hiding, when Barbar allegedly tied up and strangled his wife and stepdaughter, whose bodies were found a few feet apart last Nov. 14 in the Barbars’ two-story residence in the 2800 block of Banner Place.
Barbar’s eldest stepdaughter, Theadora Khoury, received a call from the 54-year-old defendant the day of the killings, during which he admitted committing the murders and said he planned to kill himself, according to court papers
Prosecutors said Barbar may have decided to kill his wife after learning she had had an affair and that Tamara was the product of adultery.
The defendant was captured last Nov. 15 in Deming, N.M., roughly 40 miles north of the Mexican border. Sheriff’s investigators located the fugitive by tracking signals from his mobile phone.