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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dzevad and Emina and Jodi

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When I arrived at the #JodiArias trial this morning, Judge Sherry Stephens was still doing other cases. If you follow me on twitter @CamilleKimball, you know I quickly became intrigued by this case and started tweeting it. The defendant, though dressed in the baggy jail uniform of black and white stripes, looked powerful, muscular, and intimidating. In the gallery, Victim Advocates, employees of the courts, attended to women whose gaze he avoided. 

These women were seated where trial watchers are accustomed to seeing the Travis Alexander family during the Jodi Arias trial. The Alexanders were present, ready for their own day's ordeal to begin, but they respectfully sat two rows behind, in the media section while this other family watched their own tortured version of justice play out. 

When the victim's mother stood up to make her statement to the court, she spoke in an Eastern European language and used an interpreter. Keeping one eye on the defendant, though, I could see he understood the original language perfectly. He responded to some of the mother's remarks, even before they were interpreted, by shaking his head, "no." Even after taking this woman's daughter from her, it seems, this man still had an argument with her. And when it was his turn to stand up again, he told the judge how he disputed the grieving mother's account of certain incidents in their mutual past. 

He said his piece then received a Natural Life sentence from Judge Stephens, meaning he will never get out of jail.


The man, whose name flew by very fast in court, turned out to be Dzevad Selimovic. The woman he killed, Emina Redza. 

I looked up the rest of the case in downtown Phoenix court records. Selimovic is a native of Bosnia. Or rather, as he explained to Phoenix Police officers, he was born in a country then called Yugoslavia. Which, with a great deal of turmoil, has broken up. His point of departure when he left for America was actually Croatia. That was in January of 2001. The date of his arrival in America rolled off his tongue like it was a wedding anniversary or birthdate of his child.
At the time of the murder, Selimovic referred to Emina as his "girlfriend." The two had shared an apartment in Binghamton, New York for three months and, according to the defendant, were involved for a total of 2 years. 

He had paid off all her debts, he told police. But soon thereafter, she left New York and moved back to Arizona. He felt angry and suspicious. It wasn't long before she broke up with him altogether. He flew out here to visit her. After a couple of days his idyllic view of what their romance should be did not materialize. He went to a gas station and bought a "6-inch serrated screwdriver for automotive tire repair." His plan, he told police, was to use it to kill Emina. Or himself. 

But he held back when he found himself hopeful again for a reconciliation with her. What he thought was a new beginning did not pan out, though. After a week in Arizona, Emina was driving her ex-boyfriend to the airport to send him home.

They quarreled on the way, though, and he got out of the car at a random spot in north Phoenix. After many hours, the pair had cooled off. On the phone, they agreed that she would come pick him up at the grocery store to which he had walked. She'd bring him back to the apartment she shared with her sisters. He could take a shower there and then she'd take him to the airport for real. He was dependent on her for transportation since his own car was in the airport parking lot back in New York.

At 4pm, Emina told her sister where she was going and left to pick up what her sister referred to as her "ex"-boyfriend. 

As Selimovic tells it, Emina and he did return to the apartment, empty when they arrived. He asked for the shower. In the bathroom together, Selimovic, who sports a shaved head, asked Emina for a razor. She turned her back to him to get the razors out of the medicine cabinet.

Selimovic began stabbing her with the 6-inch serrated screwdriver from the gas station. 

"The two fell to the ground in the bathroom, where he again stabbed her in the back." Emina tried to fight back, but as she crawled out of the bathroom, the enraged Selimovic pursued her. Her body shows puncture type stab wounds to her face, throat, and hands in addition to her back. 

But Selimovic could not get the satisfaction he sought until he plunged the tire repair screwdriver into her temple. Emina no longer squirmed away from him after that. 

Selimovic was covered in blood. He took off his pants and threw them down on the floor in the same room where Emina was bleeding out. He cleaned his bare chest of Emina's spattered blood. He disappeared.

Emina's sister came home about 7:15 pm and found Emina lying on the floor with a screwdriver sticking out of her right temple. She was still alive. But, after an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital, the family was told by the neurosurgeon that she could not survive the screwdriver penetrating her brain. Emina lingered in a vegetative state for a while, but she soon proved the doctor correct. 

Police put out an All Points Bulletin for Selimovic. He was found, driving Emina's car, in a "farm and industral area" area surrounding Phoenix. A passing police cruiser noticed him as the only vehicle in an area of fields. 

As the officer approached, assuming it was a vehicle in distress, the driver "immediately stepped out of the driver's side, wearing only boxer shorts and sandals."

"I did something really bad," said this nearly naked man. "I don't want to run any more." 

The officer then noticed blood and contusions on the man and recalled the All Points Bulletin.  Selimovic was arrested.  He said, "I stabbed someone."

Back at police headquarters, Slemovic told the interrogating detective that Emina was his girlfriend, but that he also had a wife of 18 years and 2 kids. His rage, he explained, had to do with him leaving them for Emina. "I never did anything wrong before," he said.

What Emina's version of their breakup was we don't know. Perhaps she hadn't known about the wife and two kids and recently found out. Perhaps it was she who was sick of his debts. That's the thing about chasing a bleeding woman crawling on the floor till you can get the screwdriver right into her brain where you want it: it tends to make your version of what would otherwise be a lover's argument look extremely not-credible. The case does interest me. I may look into it further.

All this happened in September of 2010. At one time, attorneys on this case turned in paperwork checking off a) Control/ownership/jealousy issues and b)Access to or use of a weapon in categorizing this case as one of Domestic Violence. I make sure to point this out because he was being sentenced in the same room in which Alyce LaViollette was waiting to testify on these very types of markers in the Jodi Arias trial. 

While we were sitting there waiting for that trial to begin, we saw the tail end of this one play out in 2013. Emina's sister took to the rostrum in the center of the court, where #JodiArias watchers are accustomed to seeing Defense Attorney Jennifer Wilmott set her notes when questioning a witness, and tell the court of her grief. The one good thing about today, the unhappy sister said, was that they "won't have to come here any more and see the defendant." 

I have heard these sad words before. Each case is unique, but some things are just universal. 


  1. This is great Camille, thanks for sharing. You put us all there and that is very important to us. Epic job. It is universal, it shows that Judge Stephens has a bigger cross to bear other than Jodi. Thanks again.

  2. Thanks very much, Teri. And you're right, Judge Stephens has lots and lots of cases with no one named Jodi Arias.

  3. Camille - Are you books on Audible?? Need them in audiobook format at Audible!!

  4. Great idea! We'll see what we can do about that....

  5. Emina Redza was my friend and she will be missed. It broke my heart to read this 😔