REDWOOD CITY -- The daughter of Pooroushasb "Peter" Parineh, a Woodside real estate investor accused of murdering his wife, Parima, told a jury Wednesday that she believes her dad made more than one attempt on Parima's life.
When asked about her mother's suicide attempt on March 16, 2010, about a month before she was found dead of a gunshot to the head, Austiaj Parineh blurted out, "I would say it was the first murder attempt."
The comment was stricken from her official testimony as speculation, but it underscored the alienation of the defendant from his three adult children, who have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him.
In testimony that was by turns sorrowful and combative, Austiaj Parineh described her father as an angry man prone to belittling Parima and their three children. She cried for a moment when asked to point out her father in court, but otherwise did not have much use for the box of tissues next to her microphone.
The witness testified her father told her after Parima's death on April 13, 2010, that the couple had a suicide pact. She said he also told her he was in the bathroom of their Woodside mansion when he heard two shots, then found Parima mortally wounded and begging for him to finish her off.
The prosecution alleges that Parineh, 67, shot his wife to death and staged the scene in order to collect on a $30 million life insurance policy that still paid out in case of suicide. The defense claims Parima was depressed and took her own life. Defense attorney Dek Ketchum has noted the children were the beneficiaries of the policy.
Parineh's only daughter said her father was obsessed about the life insurance policy after the events of March 16 and April 13, pestering his children about using the money to pay off his debts on his real estate holdings, the value of which had plunged from around $70 million just a few years earlier.
Ketchum attacked the witness over statements she made to investigators immediately after her mother's death indicating she did not hold her father responsible. The witness said she was confused and protecting her father.
"In my head I was trying to make it a suicide," she said, "because I didn't want to believe my dad had done it."
Ketchum also disputed Austiaj Parineh's account that her mother was not suffering from depression around the time of her death. The witness said that, to the extent her mother suffered, it was due to her father's cruelty and financial mistakes and malfeasance.
"You seem to have an agenda today, isn't that true?" Ketchum countered.
Deputy district attorney Jeff Finigan showed the jury Parima Parineh's suicide note from March 16. Austiaj Parineh said the language seemed more like her father's than her mother's. The note absolved the husband of responsibility and put the blame on a business associate who won a $1.8 million legal judgment against him as well as a "crooked" judge.
The prosecutor also showed the San Mateo County Superior Court jury text messages the defendant sent to his daughter from his wife's phone while Parima Parineh was unconscious in a hospital bed following the March 16 episode. In one message Parineh called his children "a pack of idiots" who took advantage of their mother.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.