CANTON — A Potsdam man charged with felony stalking took the stand Thursday afternoon in St. Lawrence County Court after witness testimony was heard from a local retired nurse, a Clarkson University security officer, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent, a matrimonial mediator and two of the defendant’s former neighbors.
Ahmed Khalil, 37, last known address 110 Elm St., is charged with and being tried before a jury for the felonies of first-degree stalking and fourth-degree grand larceny, the misdemeanors of fourth-degree criminal mischief, second-degree unlawful imprisonment, third-degree menacing, two counts of petit larceny and second-degree harassment, a violation.
The indictment charges on Aug. 22, 2018, in St. Lawrence County, Mr. Khalil intentionally disabled a phone to prevent a person from calling for assistance from emergency services personnel, restrained a person and struck, shoved, kicked or otherwise subjected that person to physical contact and knowingly caused that person reason to fear death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury from him.
According to the petit larceny charges, on Aug. 24, 2018, Mr. Khalil twice stole property from somewhere in the county and is accused of stealing a credit or debit card under the grand larceny charge on that same date from somewhere in the county.
Based on Mr. Khalil’s testimony, he had been in a relationship with a Potsdam woman, the alleged victim, beginning in May 2018. After going on dinner dates over the course of that month, with the first on May 9, 2018, the pair discussed entering a more “serious relationship.”
Both Muslim, Mr. Khalil and the alleged victim decided to speak to the woman’s father, who resided in Iran, via phone. Soon after that virtual meeting, the pair purchased rings for one another.
“After May 9, my trust in her started changing,” Mr. Khalil told the court, referring to his partner at the time.
On Aug. 23, Mr. Khalil’s partner was scheduled to take an exam at Clarkson University, though Mr. Khalil said she did not attend. He said they instead spent most of the day together, traveling to a doctor’s appointment, eating meals in Potsdam and eventually returning to Clarkson’s campus, Mr. Khalil dropping off his partner so she could study there.
Picking up his partner from Clarkson around 4 p.m., Mr. Khalil said the pair drove around Potsdam, and after growing “concerned,” he pulled into the parking lot of Trinity Episcopal Church, 8 Maple St., at which point, the alleged victim got out of the vehicle and entered the church and Mr. Khalil left.
The alleged victim apparently received a ride back to Clarkson’s campus from a couple she met inside the church. Upon arrival to campus, she went to Campus Safety and Security, where she reported “having problems with her boyfriend,” according to witness testimony from Clarkson Campus Safety and Security Officer Kevin A. Bates.
Mr. Khalil also testified that on May 13, 2018, he filed an anonymous report with the Homeland Security Investigations Tip Line about his partner.
Eleven additional reports were filed by Mr. Khalil, who self-identified himself at the time, in October 2018, with another tip in March 2019, according to the testimony of Emily Davis, HSI special agent who was involved in working on the case. Through the department’s investigations, Ms. Davis testified that investigators determined the reports against Mr. Khalil’s partner “to not be actionable at the time.”
Upon receiving another tip from Mr. Khalil in April 2019, Ms. Davis said she told him he had an “unhealthy obsession with the case.”
Chief Assistant District Attorney Jason M. Marx and Assistant District Attorney Alex Nichols led the prosecution’s case, on Thursday calling to the stand the retired nurse, who, with her husband, gave the alleged victim a ride from Trinity Episcopal Church to Clarkson. The prosecution also called Officer Bates, Ms. Davis and Nadia N. Shahram, a Buffalo divorce attorney, researcher and founder of the Coalition for the Advancement of Moslem Women, Buffalo.
Ms. Shahram’s expertise covers issues of culture, religion and domestic violence among Muslim men and women, particularly those in relationships.
Mr. Khalil’s trial continues today.