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Group suspects foul play in death

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 07:51 AM
TAMPA -

Florida Family Association, a conservative organization, is accusing the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office of mislabeling the death of a woman two years ago as an accident.

The organization says it has enlisted a private investigator to look into the death of Fatima Abdallah, 48, who was found Aug. 16, 2009, at 8358 Old Town Drive, in the gated subdivision of Grand Hamptons.

The organization thinks Abdallah was beaten to death, possibly in an honor killing. David Caton, the group's executive director, said Abdallah was divorced and couldn't have children. Women are typically victims of honor killings when they bring dishonor to a family.

Caton worries that some law enforcement agencies in the United States have acquiesced to Shariah — Islamic law — when faced with legal controversies involving Muslims.

"We don't want to have cultural laws to form or shape how our laws are enforced in Florida," Caton said.

The organization on Thursday asked Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober to conduct a new investigation into Abdallah's death.

However, Tampa police said they reviewed the case Thursday and decided not to reopen it.

"The medical examiner came up with that the death was an accident," said Marc Hamlin, Tampa assistant chief of police. "They have the expertise."

According to a police report, Abdallah's mother, Nafish Kahla, and Abdallah got into an argument as to who was going to prepare dinner. Her mother grabbed her by the arm. Abdallah pulled away from her mother by throwing herself on the ground, striking her face on a coffee table in the process.

Abdallah, who had a history of depression, then smashed her head into the coffee table repeatedly. She then smashed her head into the carpet, stood up and fell directly backward, the report says.

Laura Hair, of the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Department, conducted the autopsy, and on Thursday said Abdallah's injuries — a black eye, a fractured cheek bone, and a partial fracture of some cartilage in the bone, along with some brain swelling — were consistent with Abdallah having hit one area with the left side of her face. With someone who has been beaten, typically there are injuries all over the place, she said.

"To me the evidence goes into it being an accident where she fell and possibly had a seizure," Hair said. "I'm not seeing evidence of a beating."

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