Khouzam’s admissions cleared for trial

John Christensen
Paul Khouzam

Paul Khouzam, 38, the man charged with 2nd degree murder and other felony charges for the Aug. 6, 2018 attack on his mother, Dr. Magda Khouzam-Daoud, who later died, has failed in his attempt to have statements made to Sheriff’s Deputies as well as evidence gathered by them thrown out.

Khouzam was indicted Nov. 1, 2018 for 2nd degree murder (class A violent felony), 1st degree burglary (class B violent felony), two counts of 3rd degree criminal possession of a weapon (class D felony), and aggravated cruelty to animals (class E felony) following a domestic incident Aug. 6, 2018 on Arrowhead Beach Road in the Town of Torrey north of Dresden, where Khouzam allegedly broke into the Seneca Lake home of his widowed mother, killed her dog, and then bludgeoned her with with a hammer and and stabbed her with a knife.

In April 2019, Cook ordered Khouzam committed the Rochester Psychiatric Center’s Regional Forensic Unit after two independent psychiatric reports found Khouzam to be “an incapacitated person at this time.” He was committed to the State Commissioner of Mental Health to be held for 1 year, and the case was suspended, with the $1 million bail/$2 million bond still in place. Somewhat unexpectedly, Khouzam was returned to the custody of the Yates County Jail in October after doctors determined he was fit to proceed.

In his written ruling signed May 20, 2020, Cook denied the Huntley and Mapp motions filed by defense attorney Robert Zimmerman, who had argued in a March 12 hearing that as Khouzam was not yet represented by legal counsel, the statements and evidence should be suppressed.

At the March 12 hearing, Yates County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Crofoot was the first to testify on his interaction with Khouzam. Crofoot testified that Deputy Sheriff Rick Simpson was holding Khouzam at gun point awaiting backup when he arrived at Arrowhead Beach Road near 6 a.m. Crofoot handcuffed Khouzam and placed him in the back of his patrol car, where Khouzam made a spontaneous statement that was not in response to a question, “I killed my mother. Does New York have a death penalty because I want to die.”  

Investigator Patrick Breuer then testified that he arrived on scene at 6:50 a.m. and advised Khouzam of his Miranda rights and asked the defendant if he understood the warning and would agree to speak to him. Khouzam responded “Yeah” to both, and when asked for permission to enter the house, he spontaneously stated that he was guilty and he had killed his mother. When asked how, he stated, by hitting her in the head with a hammer. When asked why, he responded because he was delusional, and consented to a search of the house.

Investigator Arlyn Cunningham interviewed Khouzam at the county jail. An audio and video recording of the interview was accepted as evidence without objection. During the interrogation, Khouzam stated he thought he killed his mother by hitting her in the head with a hammer and had stabbed her in the shoulder with a kitchen knife after intending to cut her head off. He consented in writing to a search of his Apple iPhone and provided the passcode, model, and phone number to the Sheriff’s Department. Cunningham testified that at no time during the interview did Khouzam refuse to speak to him or ask to speak to an attorney.

Corrections Officer James Stenzel testified Khouzam was under constant supervision through-out the day and would make spontaneous statements such as, he realized that he had killed his mother, that he just snapped and grabbed her hair, that he thought he was God and that his mother was the anti-Christ, and that he just wanted to plead guilty. On cross-examination, Stenzel said no recording of those statements was made, but he made written notes in the jail’s booking area immediately after hearing them. Corrections Officer Corey Bates, testified to Khouzam making similar spontaneous statements while incarcerated in the jail.

Cook ruled that the People had met the burden of proof that all Khouzam’s statements were all voluntary in full knowledge of his rights, and the evidence from the cell phone was also surrendered voluntarily. As such, it is all admissible at trial, which has yet to be rescheduled after the courts reopen fully. Khouzam remains in jail on $1 million bail/$2 million bond and a remand without bail for his pending violation of probation in Schuyler County.