PENN YAN — “I killed my mother. Does New York have the death penalty, because I want to die.”
Yates County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Crofoot said that is what Paul Khouzam told him on the morning of Aug. 6, 2018, just before police found his beaten and bloodied mother in her home near Dresden.
Crofoot was one of several police officers who testified during a pretrial hearing for Khouzam Thursday in Yates County Court. The Huntley hearing will determine if statements made by Khouzam to police officers can be used at his trial, which is scheduled for mid-July.
Crofoot testified that he went to the scene just before 6 a.m. after a 911 call. He arrived to find another deputy, Rick Simpson, with his gun drawn on Khouzam.
Crofoot said he put Khouzam in handcuffs and in the back of his patrol car, then went to his mother’s home, which was about 200 yards from where Simpson found Khouzam. On the way to the house, Crofoot said Khouzam told him what happened without being asked.
Khouzam’s mother, Dr. Magda Daoud, was found alive. She died about two months later.
Sheriff’s office Inv. Pat Breuer and Inv. Arlyn Cunningham Jr. also testified Thursday.
Breuer said he arrived at the scene about an hour after the 911 call and spoke to Khouzam in Crofoot’s car. Breuer said the conversation, which lasted about two minutes, was taped on another deputy’s body camera.
Breuer said he read Khouzam his Miranda rights and Khouzam agreed to talk.
“I killed my mother. I did it. I am guilty,” Breuer recalled Khouzam saying, adding that Khouzam confessed to hitting his mother in the head with a hammer at least once.
Breuer said Khouzam admitted to being sad and delusional at the scene.
Cunningham interviewed Khouzam for about two hours at the sheriff’s office in Penn Yan later that morning. He testified that during the interview, which was recorded, Khouzam admitted stabbing his mother with a knife and hitting her with the hammer.
“He said he wanted to die. He wanted me to kill him,” Cunningham said, adding that Khouzam never asked for an attorney. “He seemed tired, but coherent.”
Two corrections officer at the county jail, James Stenzel and Corey Bates, testified that Khouzam talked to them about the incident two days later. Stenzel said Khouzam told him “he just snapped” when his mother refused to give him her car keys.
Stenzel testified that Khouzam said he “was going to Philly to play in the NBA.”
Bates testified that Khouzam told him he killed his mother’s dog during the incident, and he tried to get his mother’s car keys by pulling her hair and hitting her with the hammer. Bates said that Khouzam told him he was delusional during the incident.
County Judge Jason Cook will decide later whether Khouzam’s statements can be used at trial. District Attorney Todd Casella said the statements were made voluntarily after Khouzam was given his Miranda rights and other statements were spontaneous.
Khouzam’s attorney, Robert Zimmerman, said after the hearing he will be using an insanity defense.
“It’s the only defense,” he said.