A CALIFORNIAN woman who killed her new husband and cooked his body parts over Thanksgiving weekend in 1991 has been denied her second bid for parole.
Parole commissioners have rejected Egypt-born Omaima Nelson’s request for freedom following a five-and-half-hour hearing at the Central California Women’s Facility at Chowchilla, where she has been serving a life sentence.
Nelson, then 23, was convicted of murdering her 56-year-old husband William Nelson in a grotesque killing that authorities likened to the fictional slayings of Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic character in Silence of the Lambs.
Nelson, now 43, represented herself at the hearing and argued that she should be granted parole because she has become a changed person and she wanted “to live the good life God meant”.
She claimed she was sorry, although she continued to say she killed in self-defence.
Commissioners said she had not accepted full responsibility for the slaying, nor completed educational or vocational programs while incarcerated that would help her lead a productive life outside prison.
William Nelson’s daughter Margaret Nelson – who was 15 at the time of the murder – gave a long, tearful speech in which she said her father’s murder meant he couldn’t attend her wedding or meet her eight-week-old daughter.
“I don’t have the language to explain the pain of my father not being there,” the victim’s daughter said.
Nelson will not be eligible to seek parole again for 15 years – the maximum period she can be held without another hearing, the commissioners said.
Nelson sat silently as her plea for parole was rejected.
Authorities said she tied up her husband of less than a month, killed him and decapitated, dismembered and disembowelled the body over the course of a Thanksgiving weekend, churning his parts through a garbage disposal that neighbours said ran non-stop in the hours after the murder.
Authorities found some of Nelson’s body parts stuffed in garbage bags and mixed with leftover turkey, including a bag containing his entrails on the front floor of his Corvette.
They found an “abattoir” in the couple’s Costa Mesa home, with blood pools on the floor, blood-stained sheets and walls, and no evidence of rape.
The man’s hands had been fried in oil and his head boiled and stuffed in a freezer.
His lower body and torso were skinned. Nelson sought help from two different friends to try to remove her husband’s teeth and dispose of his remains to cover her tracks. One of them alerted police.
During the trial, Nelson told jurors that William, her husband of three weeks, had sexually assaulted and beat her for weeks, including that Thanksgiving weekend, and that she committed the acts in self-defence.
She claimed William tied her hands, bit, kicked, grabbed and choked her and threatened to kill her.
She also said she was repeatedly molested and beaten by men as a child in Egypt and subjected to unanesthetised circumcision.
But prosecutors found evidence suggesting that Nelson killed her husband to obtain his money and other property.
Nelson denied intending to kill her husband or planning to take his money, but she admitted to stabbing William in the chest and neck with a pair of scissors, striking him with an iron and throwing a lamp at him as he sexually assaulted her.
She said that after the slaying she “freaked out”, fell into a trance-like state, and spent 12 hours hacking up the body to simplify disposal.
Nelson claimed to have little memory of her husband’s dismemberment, but recalled cutting off his penis and his ring finger, cleaning the apartment and packaging the body parts.
A psychiatrist at Nelson’s trial testified that Nelson put on red shoes, a red hat and red lipstick before spending hours chopping up her husband’s body.
A psychiatrist testified that she confessed to cooking her husband’s ribs barbecue-style and tasting them but later denied engaging in cannibalism. The psychiatrist also said he believed she was psychotic when she killed Nelson.
Jurors found Nelson not guilty of first-degree murder, citing insufficient evidence of premeditation, but convicted her of second-degree murder. They also found Nelson guilty of assaulting a former boyfriend with a gun.
She is serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life.
Nelson appealed but lost in 1995. In 2006, she expressed remorse for killing her husband and sought parole claiming she had found salvation as a born-again Christian.
She said she had also married an older man from outside prison who has since died. But parole was denied by commissioners who found her unpredictable and a serious threat to public safety.