In the final months of Palestina Isa's life, Zein Isa told several relatives and friends that his youngest daughter was beyond redemption and deserved to die for disgracing the family honor, according to a tape recording played in court Tuesday evening.
''You know for me this one has become a burned woman, a black whore, and there is no way to cleanse her except through the red color that cleanses her,'' Zein Isa said of Palestina in one of five emotion-packed telephone conversations played to jurors.
Isa, 60, a Palestinian who is a naturalized American citizen, and his Brazilian wife, Maria Isa, are on trial for first-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Palestina, known as Tina, on Nov. 6, 1989. Tina was stabbed to death at the family's apartment at 3759 Delor Street.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the parents. Zein Isa is claiming self-defense.
Prosecutors have tape recordings of phone conversations in which Zein Isa damns his daughter's conduct. He had been the target of an FBI investigation involving national security.
In one conversation a month before Tina was killed, Zein Isa told another daughter that in the event of Tina's death, he would claim self-defense. ''I'll put a knife in her hand after she falls down, of course,'' he said.
Zein Isa was under FBI surveilance prior to his daughter's death, and a ''bug'' in the family's apartment captured the phone conversations and the deadly struggle.
Circuit Judge Charles A. Shaw instructed the jurors that the tapes could only be considered in the case of Zein Isa and not in the case of Maria Isa. In a few of the tapes, Zein Isa mentioned that his wife seemed to be taking Tina's side in the stormy domestic disputes over Tina's rebellion against strict family rules.
The jurors and attorneys donned headphones Tuesday to listen to the recorded phone conversations, but these were quickly discarded because of acoustical problems.
The conversations were in Arabic, with sprinkles of English.
Peter Heath, an assistant professor of Arabic language and literature at Washington University, translated the conversations. He read from transcripts at the trial.
Testimony early Tuesday established that the Isas were angry because their daughter was dating a black man, Cliff Walker, 20.
In an Aug. 18, 1989 conversation, Zein Isa told a friend that he had reached the end of his patience with Tina. ''There is no way to teach her manners. Teaching her has to take place in the hotel under ground,'' Isa told the friend.
Two of Tina's sisters sided with Zein Isa in the family power struggle.
Fatima Abdeljabbar phoned her father Oct. 13, 1989, as he was preparing for bed to advise the family to be strict with Tina.
''Let me put in my teeth and tell you a harsh word, '' Zein Isa told Abdeljabbar. ''If God makes my wish, I'll put her in the grave.''
Abdeljabbar offered a curse of her own for Tina: ''May God pain her, may God make her sleep and not get up,'' she said. Later in the same conversation Abdeljabbar said of Tina: ''She is a whore. She will never enter my house.''
Another sister, Soraia Salem, phoned her father the following day and suggested that Tina be chained in the basement and that her passport be sent to the homeland.
Zein Isa said he would have to send Tina home ''in a box.''
Salem said that if her father killed Tina, the family would defend him, saying he had acted in accord with the law of his homeland.
Testimony earlier in the day had established Tina Isa's chaotic relationship with her family.
Tina's high school guidance counselor, Pamela Fournier, testified Tuesday that Tina had fought with her family over her boyfriend and over the time she spent away from home.
After a stormy meeting with Tina's mother and an older sister, Fournier said she had told the school principal she believed the family was ''going to stone that girl.''
Fournier acknowledged under cross-examination that she meant ''stone'' figuratively. But she said that less than a month before Tina was killed, the girl's mother told the counselor she was pulling Tina out of school as punishment for dating her boyfriend.
Walker, the boyfriend, testified that he and Tina began seeing each other in January 1989.
Walker said when he walked Tina home on Nov. 5, 1989, her first night working at a Wendy's restaurant, she expected a family fight. She asked Walker to wait outside.
''She told me if I heard screaming and stuff, she would come back out,'' Walker said.
Assistant Circuit Attorney Dee Joyce-Hayes asked, ''Did she come back out?'' Walker replied, ''No.''
Prosecutors allege that shortly after Tina got home, Zein Isa stabbed her to death while Maria Isa held her daughter by her hair. Defense attorneys have said that Tina confronted her father with a knife and died in a struggle over the weapon.