Judge gives Oweiss 30 years
May 28, 2003
Erin Uy
Staff Writer

More than 20 friends, family members and patients testified Friday at the sentencing of Potomac gynecologist Zakaria M. Oweiss, who a jury convicted in February of his wife's second-degree murder in 2001.

They described Oweiss, 59, as a devoted father, loving husband and dedicated doctor who cared for each baby he delivered.

Celine Oweiss of Kensington, Oweiss's sister-in-law, implored for leniency in his sentence in order for him to be reunited with his family.

"Give him the hope to be the same devoted and unlimited father and husband that he was," she said.

But Circuit Court Judge S. Michael Pincus was not swayed. Although state guidelines recommend a 12 to 20-year sentence for such a crime, Pincus instead imposed the 30-year sentence requested by the county State's Attorney's office for the 2001 murder of his wife, real estate agent Marianne I. Oweiss, 49.

"In a matter of minutes he brought down a life of accomplishment," Pincus said.

"Not only did he kill his wife, but quite clearly, as we heard this morning, he has ruined his life, his relationships and reputable profession," Pincus said. "...A true tragedy."

Oweiss must serve at least 15 years before he is eligible for parole, said Rick Pringle, of the Montgomery County Department of Corrections.

He will remain at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Clarksburg for the next two years, and will then be transferred to a state facility.

In additional comments, Pincus said he thought Oweiss and no one else committed the murder.

On August 15, 2001, county fire and rescue workers responded to a 911 call reporting an injured person at the Oweiss home on Kentsdale Drive in Potomac. Upon arriving, they found Marianne Oweiss dead from at least seven blows to the head.

Forensic evidence revealed spatters of her blood on Oweiss's eyeglasses, wedding band, wristwatch, cell phone, shirt and pants. He was convicted of her murder in March 2003.

More than 20 of Oweiss's family, friends, and former patients pleaded to Pincus for a lenient sentence in regard to his lifelong benevolence.

Further, they asked the judge to consider Oweiss's diabetes and heart condition. During the jury deliberation of his trial, Oweiss underwent surgery to open a blocked artery after suffering from a series of chest pains.

Mostly supporters of Oweiss filled the courtroom Friday, with even a handful of people standing in the back.

Amin Oweiss, 18, the youngest of the doctor's two sons, was the first to speak. He said he still respects his father and cannot see how his life will continue with the absence of both parents.

"I would like to say that I love my father very much," Amin said. "...It's unfair for him to go to jail for the rest of his life."

With his head in his hands, Oweiss sobbed without looking at his son. On the ring finger of his left hand, he wore a gold band.

But Deputy State's Attorney Katherine Winfree said Oweiss's tears were selfish and fake.

"He killed the woman, the love of his life," Winfree said.

Further, Winfree said Oweiss displayed no remorse after the murder and continued with destructive behavior that has isolated his oldest son, Omar Oweiss, 22.

During his trial Oweiss maintained it was his oldest son, Omar, who killed his mother ­ a defense county State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler described as "reprehensible."

"He continues to show no remorse in this case," Gansler said. "Not only that, but he had the moral depravity to blame his son in this case."

At court on Friday, Omar - a key witness in Oweiss's prosecution - sat on the other side of the courtroom from his brother.

In a second testimony to Pincus, Celine Oweiss said Omar was in fact responsible for his mother's murder.

"As a father I observed him [protect] his sons ­ taking blames for him for things [he has] done," said Celine of Oweiss, glancing at Omar.

Since the murder, Omar said he has been put in a compromising position that has forced him to choose righteousness over loyalty.

He said he loved his father, but could not forget the loss of his mother.

"Everything you've heard today is very true," Omar said. "He's been a wonderful father. He's a wonderful man...But you've only heard one side.''

"This selfless man, this wonderful man, was selfish one time and did not consider the consequences of his actions for his two boys," Omar said.

Ibrahim M. Oweiss, a spokesman for the family, said they plan to appeal the sentence.