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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

NY Times: Briefly a Rising Star, Forever a Mourning Son

So why’d Sammy wear #27?  Wait a minute… what’s halfway between 19 and 27…

It was called the Masjid of Tucson, a mosque where Muslims could worship and study the Koran in the Arizona desert under the idiosyncratic tutelage of Rashad Khalifa, its founder. On Jan. 31, 1990, the mosque, at the intersection of Sixth and North Euclid, near the University of Arizona campus, became the scene of a murder investigation.

Khalifa was found near the kitchen that morning, stabbed to death. It appeared to investigators that whoever had killed him had also tried to set fire to the body in an effort to destroy evidence.

A Ph.D.-educated Egyptian-American, Khalifa had founded his masjid as part of a midlife revelation that he was a messenger of God. In practice and study, Khalifa’s teachings about the Koran were infused with science, modernity and, more than anything, numerology. The number 19, he taught, was “the miracle’s common denominator,” a code that unlocked the Koran, like a secure password.

Much of Islam teaches that the Prophet Muhammad was the last messenger of God, but Khalifa added himself to the list, getting his message out through books, videos and a newsletter called Muslim Perspective.

His scholarship was curious to some and blasphemy to others. He began to receive threats against his life. Once he had been killed, conspiracy theories quickly circulated about who might have been responsible. Tucson investigators eventually came to focus on a local person of interest whose trail they soon lost.

It was not until 2006, when grant money from the Justice Department helped jump-start the city’s backlog of cold-case homicide investigations, that new DNA tests of bloodstains from the crime scene led to the arrest of a man named Glen Francis, who was then living in Canada.

As opening arguments in Francis’s murder trial began on Dec. 11 in Pima County Superior Court here, Sam Khalifa, the son of the victim, sat in the mostly empty gallery. He is 49 now and drives a cab here. But at one time, he was the starting shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates…

The Pirates drafted him in the first round in 1982 out of Tucson’s Sahuaro High School. By 1985, with Pittsburgh going through a series of shortstops, Khalifa replaced the injured Johnnie LeMaster in the starting lineup.

In the end, Khalifa played parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh, but by the 1989 season, he found himself being moved around the infield at the Pirates’ Class AAA affiliate in Buffalo, plagued by the sense that the organization had given up hope that he would ever be its everyday shortstop.

One night during a trip, Khalifa missed a team bus and simply flew home. Five months later, his father was killed, upending his life further and dashing whatever thoughts he had of spring training with another team…

Over the next two decades, as the murder investigation went cold, Khalifa got a college degree, drove a cab, tried some sales jobs, tried to get over his anger. Then he went back to driving a cab.

The District Attorney Posted: January 02, 2013 at 11:34 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: crime, history, pirates, sammy khalifa

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   1. Rally Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4336985)
Pretty good fielder by the numbers. Range facter per 9 above average, +10 TZ in about a season's worth of playing time. Looking at the minor league stats, not much there to suggest he was ever going to hit.
   2. Transmission Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4337021)
I fondly remember Khalifa for his 1986 and 1987 Topps baseball cards, which visually impressed me as a kid, and for the way Harry Caray would pronounce it "kah LEAF ahhh". Very sad to hear of this.1986, 1987
   3. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4337025)
Pretty good fielder by the numbers

One wonders if, had the intro been written by a certain someone else, 'Wiz' might have been incorporated.

Sad story.
   4. SoCalDemon Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4337026)
I don't know; an above-average defensive shortstop who hit for a 77 OPS+ at 21, and who had a .769 OBP-heavy (.398) OPS at Buffalo, seems like that has quite a bit of value. I could see him being a solid UT for a few years, maybe 75-80ish OPS+, definitely seems like an above replacement-level part. Seems at least as good as Jose Lind.
   5. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4337050)
Sammy Khalifa. Damn. That is one hell of a story and, yes, very sad. They don't say why this guy killed his father so I'm guessing the motive didn't come out at trial?
   6. The District Attorney Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4337051)
TFA:
prosecutors, all these years later, have made little effort trying to determine or prove Francis’s possible motive, beyond some long-ago statements Francis might have made about Khalifa’s teachings and murder. Whether he was acting on the orders of others has not been raised. The case they put on last month was almost strictly driven by the DNA evidence.

“They had all these big names and big-time people wanting to kill this guy, and there’s no motive for this guy, there’s no history for this guy, there’s no nothing,” Bruner [his lawyer] said of Francis.
   7. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: January 02, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4337053)
“They had all these big names and big-time people wanting to kill this guy, and there’s no motive for this guy, there’s no history for this guy, there’s no nothing,” Bruner [his lawyer] said of Francis.

Very strange.
   8. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 02, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4337059)
It always amazes me the way grief can impact someone's life both in obvious ways and in ways that aren't entirely clear. What a sad story.
   9. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: January 02, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4337221)
I once had both Khalifa and LeMaster on the same fantasy team. This is a deeply depressing story.
   10. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 02, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4337241)
And a deeply depressing fantasy team.
   11. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 02, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4337368)
beyond some long-ago statements Francis might have made about Khalifa’s teachings and murder


It's a poorly written story that doesn't include more detail on these statements. Obviously it was most likely he was recruited to do the murder by tye other radicals, or hoped to impress them, but its pretty hard to prove those connections and communications 20 yeas later.
   12. PerroX Posted: January 02, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4337403)
Number 19 in numerology is one of the special number, because its so unique from the rest of the numbers. There is one distinct charaterestic about this number, a beautiful one, which every person in this world longs to have. Number 19 comes under the family of 1 in numerology. We know that number 1 is ruled by planet sun. Number 19 in numerology is called as ” The Rising Sun” which means that the sun never dusks, and the person with this name as 19 will always rise in their life. Another important name to this number 19 is Prince of Heaven.
   13. PerroX Posted: January 02, 2013 at 08:46 PM (#4337405)
The number of angels guarding Hell ("Hellfire") ("Saqar") according to the Qur'an: "Over it is nineteen" (74:30).
The Number of Verse and Sura together in the Qur'an which announces Jesus son of Maryam's (Mary's) birth (Qur'an 19:19).
Some people have claimed that patterns of the number 19 are present an unusual number of times in the Qur'an.

In the Bábí and Bahá'í faiths, a group of 19 is called a Váhid, a Unity (Arabic: ???? w?hid, "one"). The numerical value of this word in the Abjad numeral system is 19.

The Bahá'í calendar is structured such that a year contains 19 months of 19 days each (along with the intercalary period of Ayyám-i-Há), as well as a 19-year cycle and a 361-year (19x19) supercycle.
The Báb and his disciples formed a group of 19.
There were 19 Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh.

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