Judge to determine bond against man charged in fraud, Iranian activist's murder

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Man at center of cold-case murder asks for court-appointed attorney
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Ali Irsan faced a judge in an unrelated case involving Social Security fraud

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A man accused in a murder that baffled investigators for years was in court Tuesday, facing a federal judge. He's charged with killing an Iranian activist outside her Galleria-area apartment back in 2012. But this court date was for other charges.

Ali Irsan appeared before a federal magistrate Tuesday afternoon on Social Security fraud charges. Judge Nancy Johnson read the charges against Irsan, which include conspiring to defraud the U.S., theft of public money and benefits fraud. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Irsan does not have an attorney yet and asked for the court to appoint him one. He asked for a court appointed attorney claiming he has just $700 cash at home and $100 in his wallet.

"The court is not going to want to give him a court-appointed lawyer and public defender and not only have the public pay for the alleged crimes he's committed -- which he's only accused of at this point in time -- but to compound the problem by allowing taxpayers and the federal government to pay for his lawyers to defend himself," KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said.

A judge will determine if he is a flight risk and whether bond will be granted on Thursday.

Irsan's wife, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh and daughter, Nadia Irsan are also charged in the case. However, Ali Irsan claimed in court he married his wife while still married to another woman in Jordan, so his marriage to Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh isn't recognized here.

In a separate case, Irsan is charged with shooting Gelareh Bagherzadeh on January 15, 2012.