Dec 12, 2012 6:45 PM by Lorraine Rivera

Murder at the Mosque: Trial, Day 2

TUCSON - The woman who worked for Dr. Rashad Khalifa, a Tucson imam who was murdered 22 years ago, testified Tuesday that she found his body lying in the kitchen of the Tucson mosque. Lisa Spray-Giles told jurors, "his body was on the ground in a pool of blood," and that, in her recollection, his face appeared to be "at peace."

Glen Francis, 54, is on trial for the murder of Khalifa. Prosecutors say Francis stabbed Khalifa more than 50 times January 31st 1990. Authorities arrested Francis two decades after the murder when DNA and fingerprints put him at the murder scene.

Spray-Giles acknowledged to defense attorneys that Khalifa had started carrying a gun after receiving threats based on his interpretation of the Quran. Khalifa's interpretation of the Quran was considered controversial because he believed two verses in the Quran were satanic and he had stated that he was a messenger of God. Spray-Giles told jurors as a result of the threats, Khalifa also began parking behind the mosque.

Jurors also heard from a Mahmoud Abib, a Muslim who lived near the mosque and worked for the imam. Abib told jurors he met a man outside the mosque named Benjamin Phillips, who appeared to be genuinely interested in learning about Islam. According to Abib, Phillips spent significant time at the mosque in the weeks preceding the murder but then disappeared after Khalifa's death. Both Abib and Spray-Giles described how Phillips prayed differently than they did and how he sometimes spoke in a Jamaican accent. Benjamin Phillips is among the seven aliases court records indicate Glen Francis used.


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