- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

A Potomac gynecologist is in Montgomery County jail without bond, charged with the first-degree murder of his real-estate agent wife, whom he had accused of having an extramarital affair in Egypt, police and prosecutors said.
The couple's two sons are asking that Zakaria M. Oweiss, 57, be allowed to attend the funeral of Marianne Irmgard Oweiss, 49. District Court Judge Marielsa A. Bernard, who refused to set bond for Dr. Oweiss, said she will consider custodial release when funeral arrangements are completed.
"He's not a flight risk" and would willingly surrender his passport, said defense attorney Paul Stein. "He's a man of considerable and substantial means."
Maryland medical examiners were completing an autopsy yesterday, but Montgomery County police said Mrs. Oweiss appeared to have died from multiple blows and "blunt force trauma."
Real-estate associates of Mrs. Oweiss said they thought she was depressed when she left the country in May. Friends thought she was headed for Germany, where her mother lives. But during the bond hearing yesterday, it was revealed she had been in Egypt, homeland of Dr. Oweiss, who became a U.S. citizen in 1977.
Dr. Oweiss had also gone to Egypt, returned and planned to confront his wife when she returned Tuesday, police reported.
"He has said his wife had an extramarital affair that was a disgrace to the family," said State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler. "Obviously, this is a case of domestic violence. She was dead within 24 hours."
The couple's older son, Omar, told police he was awakened Wednesday morning when he heard his mother scream in the family's two-story brick-shingle house in the 9500 block of Kentsdale Drive.
At the foot of the stairs in the basement, he saw his mother's bleeding body. Omar Oweiss told police he went outside and found his father, "upset and pacing in the driveway." The son called 911 at 8:56 a.m. Emergency medics arrived at 9:01 a.m., examined Mrs. Oweiss and called police.
The police report and Deputy State's Attorney Katherine Winfree said Dr. Oweiss made several conflicting statements before he was charged at 4 a.m. yesterday.
"The evidence of the defendant's guilt are quite strong," Mrs. Winfree said.
Fire-rescue personnel and police said Dr. Oweiss had spots of blood on his face, hands and clothing and a "laceration" on his upper chest. Although he is a physician qualified to give first aid, Dr. Oweiss said he did not come in contact with his wife's body.
But later, police said, Dr. Oweiss said he tried to move his wife's body and felt her wrist and neck for a pulse.
Homicide detectives, who are searching Mrs. Oweiss' computer, said the crime scene and blood patterns indicated a violent struggle had occurred. Mrs. Oweiss had severe wounds to the head.
According to the police report, Dr. Oweiss is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. He was born in Egypt in 1944.
Police said Dr. Oweiss, at first, said he did not have the chest laceration when he came home Wednesday morning. Later, he said he got the laceration several days earlier from a tree branch.
Dr. Oweiss first said he had come home that morning because he forgot "an item" to take to his office. Later, he said he returned home because he became ill on the way to work, police said.
Dr. Oweiss said he saw an open door, heard his wife scream and went to the basement to investigate.
Mr. Stein said that because Mrs. Oweiss had returned to her home of more than 20 years, "We can infer that the issues had been resolved."
That is what Dr. Oweiss told police, but family members said the marriage "had all but ended," according to the statement of charges.
Mr. Stein said of his client, "He didn't have to stay at the scene. He could have got in his car and ran."
Mrs. Oweiss' body may be returned to Germany for funeral and burial, Mr. Stein said.
Mrs. Oweiss had lived in Maryland for more than 26 years. She had studied language in Germany, where she was born, and become a simultaneous translator in English, German, Arabic and French. In the United States, she earned a bachelor's degree in medical technology and became office manager for her husband until 1986, when she went into the real-estate business.
According to her Internet Web site, she was a volunteer for Table for the Poor, Welcome to Washington, the Goethe Society and other charities. She enjoyed gardening, travel, tennis, reading, sewing and walking her dogs.
The sons, Omar, 20, and Amis Oweiss, 18, who lived with their parents, were in court yesterday with the doctor's brother, Ivrahein Oweiss.
Judge Bernard scheduled a preliminary hearing for Dr. Oweiss for Sept. 15. However, Montgomery County grand juries typically return indictments in felonies before preliminary hearings occur.
"I have no previous convictions," Dr. Oweiss said via closed-circuit television in yesterday's court hearing. A court official said later he was charged in 1985 with assaulting a person in a parking lot, but was not convicted.

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