Hamid Ghassemi, a 72-year-old businessman from Baton Rouge implicated in a shocking contract killing of his ex-wife, was denied another delay in his long-anticipated trial, which has been lingering for over eight years.
Ghassemi was apprehended in May 2015 and charged with first-degree murder of his former spouse, Taherah Ghassemi. The latter was abducted, shot in the head, and her body was discovered buried in a secluded area of St. Helena Parish about a month after her disappearance in 2015.
Judge Tarvald Smith dismissed Ghassemi’s plea on Wednesday to defer the trial any further, which has been continually obstructed due to various issues, inclusive of the COVID-19 pandemic and Ghassemi dismissing his defense lawyers.
Allegedly, Ghassemi paid $10,000 to three contract killers—Tyler Ashpaugh, Daniel Richter, and Skyler Williams—for the execution. In 2018, Ashpaugh and Richter agreed to plea bargains. However, in a twist of events, Richter renounced his guilty plea in 2021, while Ashpaugh was found dead due to a suspected overdose in his cell at the Angola prison earlier this year.
In recent months, Williams agreed to a plea deal, and Richter reverted his plea back to guilty, a change that occurred just the previous week, as per Baton Rouge court records.
Although Ashpaugh’s initial deal involved testifying against Ghassemi—who is now scheduled for trial on August 7, 2023—prosecutors remained tight-lipped on whether Richter and Williams would be required to testify.