DALLAS (AP) — A father who told two of his sons to pretend they were swimming as he drowned them in a Dallas-area creek was sentenced to death on Thursday.
Jurors took less than 10 minutes to convict Naim Rasool Muhammad last week after hearing testimony from the mother of the two drowned boys, 5-year-old Naim and 3-year-old Elijah. They also watched a video of Muhammad, 34, describing the killings to a police detective.
Muhammad killed Naim and Elijah in August 2011. Authorities say he forced the boys and their mother, Kametra Sampson, into a car and started driving. It was supposed to be Naim's first day of school.
Sampson was able to jump out of the car and alert a nearby county constable, who did not chase Muhammad but called police.
As officers launched a manhunt, Muhammad took the boys to a creek in Glenn Heights, outside Dallas. He described what happened next in a videotaped interview played in court and quoted by The Dallas Morning News.
He described the last moments with the boys near the creek. Naim said, "I love you, Daddy."
Then, he told his sons to sit down. "Play like y'all swimming," he said, before pushing their faces into the water.
Muhammad was seen crying in court. Some jurors stared at him, while others focused on the video screens showing the interview.
According to the video, Muhammad was angry at Sampson for breaking up with him. Sampson testified that he "started getting all sweet" when they spotted the constable after he had forced her and the boys into the car.
She ended up getting out and running toward the constable, yelling, "He's going to kill my kids," according to the Morning News.
Muhammad's mother later called 911 to say her son had drowned the boys and that she had their unresponsive bodies.
Court records show Muhammad had a history of violence. Sampson told jurors that Muhammad routinely beat her, often for things as small as burning rice. Texas Child Protective Services officials said they were monitoring Sampson and the couple's three children after receiving a report of family violence.
Paul Johnson, Muhammad's attorney, said his client believed in his "deranged mind" that his boys would grow up like him — with a mother addicted to drugs and without a father. He argued that Muhammad deserved to be found guilty, but said he should be given life in prison instead of a death sentence.