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Strangulation Disputed in Murder Trial;Md. Man’s Attorney Challenges Report

The attorney for a Gaithersburg man charged with killing his pregnant fiance’e and leaving her decomposed body in a car at National Airport yesterday disputed a medical examiner’s finding that the woman was strangled.

Ahmad “Alex” Nowrouzi is a “pacificist” who was “genuinely frightened” after a fight Nowrouzi had with his girlfriend, Marlene D. Forrester, 26, attorney Barry Helfand told a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge.

Forrester’s badly decayed body was found July 18, 1989, more than two weeks after the fight, in her car in a remote parking lot at the airport.

The coroner’s office ruled that she died of strangulation. But Helfand, in opening statements at Nowrouzi’s first-degree murder trial, questioned the cause of death and his client’s culpability in the slaying.

The coroner’s report, Helfand said, attributes Forrester’s death to strangulation caused by the fracture of the hyoid bone, a U-shaped bone at the base of the tongue. Helfand said the coroner’s report noted “no signs of blood where the break occurred. That is medically impossible.”

Montgomery Assistant State’s Attorney Kathleen Toolan said Nowrouzi was involved in a love triangle and killed Forrester shortly before he was scheduled to marry another woman in South Carolina.

Toolan said Nowrouzi told police after he was arrested that Forrester was strangled on a seat belt while he was driving her to a hospital for a knife wound suffered during a fight between the two lovers.

At the time of her disappearance, Forrester was about two months pregnant and had plans to marry Nowrouzi, despite his family’s objections to the relationship, friends of the victim testified yesterday.

Toolan said Nowrouzi’s family had wanted him to participate in an arranged marriage July 23 with a woman in South Carolina.

The trial, expected to last about a week, is before Circuit Court Judge Peter J. Messitte instead of a jury. Helfand said the defense opted for a court trial because of the highly technical medical evidence in the case.

Toolan said Nowrouzi failed to seek medical assistance for Forrester. “He sat at the Hamburger Hamlet for three hours deciding what to do,” she said.

Police said Nowrouzi returned to the victim’s apartment and removed a patch of bloody carpet before he drove in Forrester’s 1986 Dodge Colt to National Airport.

After leaving the body and car in the parking lot, Nowrouzi departed for South Carolina to visit his fiance’e, Toolan said.

Helfand yesterday attempted to portray the victim as a violent woman who intimidated the “quiet, gentle” Nowrouzi.

One of the victim’s friends said Forrester had a “bad temper” and that she often fought with her former boyfriends, including Nowrouzi.

Client Reviews
"I have watched Mr. Helfand in trial and in negotiations. He is remarkable. Mr. Helfand is extremely knowledgeable in the law, and even more knowledgeable in the ways to deal with people." Afshin Pishevar, Criminal Defense Attorney in Rockville, MD
"I strongly endorse this lawyer. I have known Mr. Helfand for many years. We have worked together on cases and represented conflicting parties. I have watched Mr. Helfand in trial and in negotiations. He is remarkable." David Felsen, Criminal Defense Attorney in Rockville, MD
"It’s one of the biggest cases that’s been tried in Montgomery County in a long time,” said Steve VanGrack, a Rockville lawyer considering a Democratic bid for state’s attorney." Washington Post