ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Mary Travers Murphy, who heads the Family Justice Center, remembers that fateful day on February 12, 2009.
“I was watching coverage of the airplane crash in Clarence and my cellphone rang, I was the town supervisor in Orchard Park, and the police chief called me to tell me that we had a murder in Orchard Park. I thought he was calling to tell me someone went down in that plane," said Murphy.
The chief told her that Muzzamil Hassan had brutally murdered his wife Aasiya in their television station, Bridges TV, then turned himself in to police. What the chief didn't tell her was that she had been beheaded.
Murphy says the murder came as even more of a shock because she knew Aasiya.
"I knew Aasiya. I saw her every day of my life over the course of three years when she owned and operated the 7-Eleven here in the heart of Orchard Park," said Murphy.
During the trial, Hassan claimed he killed his wife in self-defense and that he suffered from battered spouse syndrome. The defense was rejected and Hassan was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years to life. Following the trial, the case raised many questions about domestic violence and the services offered to victims of abuse.
"I think it woke up this community because so many people knew her and interacted with her and thought, ‘What? How does this happen? What can we do to make sure it doesn't happen again?" said Murphy.
One year after Aasiya's death, that question was answered. The Family Justice Center opened a satellite office in Orchard Park.
"Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of clients have walked into these doors, gotten the help they needed. Trauma informed counseling, orders of protection, safety plans, documentation of their injuries, and reassurance. ‘You don't deserve this, you sure as heck didn't cause it, you're not responsible for the abuse,’" said Murphy.
Murphy says nine years after Aasiya's death, she's hopeful victims of abuse will now be heard when they speak up, and that no woman will ever have to suffer the way Aasiya did.
"I can tell you her death haunts me every day. This happened in February of 2009 and it touched me deeply and it's the reason I jump out of bed every day and to the work at the Family Justice Center to help shine this light on this horror show in our society," said Murphy.
Anyone who would like more information on the Family Justice Center can call 716-558-SAFE.