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Dad charged with murdering reluctant bride

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  • NEW: A tearful Chaudhry Rashid tells judge he has done nothing wrong
  • Rashid is accused of killing daughter, who wanted out of arranged marriage
  • His wife called police Sunday morning after she heard screams
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A Pakistani man accused of killing his daughter because she wanted out of an arranged marriage told a judge Tuesday that he had done nothing wrong.

Chaudhry Rashid, 54, later said he was "very disturbed" and "not in a state of mind" to talk because of the death of his daughter, Sandeela Kanwal.

A somber and tearful Rashid made his first court appearance Tuesday. He was advised through an Urdu interpreter of the murder charge and his legal rights.

A judge also admonished Rashid, of Jonesboro, Georgia, to not make any statements without clearing them with his attorney.

"My client is going through a difficult time. As you can imagine, he is distraught," attorney Tammi Long said after the hearing.

When asked about Rashid's comments in court, Long said her next move was to speak with him in depth.

"We will work diligently to provide the best defense for our client against these charges," she said.

She requested that Rashid's family be given privacy, but said Rashid is holding up as well as can be expected.

Court records indicate that a preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled for July 24.

Officers found Kanwal dead in an upstairs bedroom of the family's suburban Atlanta home early Sunday, according to a Clayton County police report.

Police discovered possible ligature marks on her body and made note of an iron and a necklace as potential causes of the bruising.

Authorities arrived at the home around 2 a.m., shortly after Rashid's wife called police.

She reported that she had been awakened by screaming but couldn't understand the language, the report said. She said she was afraid and left the house to call police.

Rashid's wife told authorities that Kanwal recently had wed in Pakistan in an arranged marriage. The young woman's husband was living in Chicago, Illinois, police said, but Kanwal remained at her father's home and worked at a metro Atlanta Wal-Mart for a brief time.

"The victim was not interested in marrying, nor remaining married to her husband," the police report said, citing information authorities received from Rashid's wife. "This was causing a great deal of friction between the victim and her father," so much so that the two had not spoken in two months, the report said. Video Watch how an arranged marriage ended in violence »

Police found a "distraught and possibly mournful" Rashid sitting behind a vehicle in the driveway.

"My daughter is dead," he told police.

When asked how she died, police said Rashid did not answer.

"He just dropped his head," the report states.

"Apparently she and the father had argued over the marriage and the fact that it was arranged, and at some point during the altercation he did end up killing his daughter," said Clayton County Police spokesman Tim Owens.

Neighbor Veronda Luckett said the family had always been "relatively quiet."

"They seemed to be decent, lovely people," she said.

"Honor killings" -- the slaying by family members of a woman or girl thought to be bringing them shame -- are usually kept quiet, making it difficult to determine how frequently they occur.

The United Nations Population Fund estimated in September 2000 that as many as 5,000 women and girls fall victim to such killings each year.

Ajay Nair, associate dean of multicultural affairs at Columbia University, said many immigrant families struggle over cultural and generational gaps, but that most South Asian communities in the United States enjoy "wonderful" relationships within their families.

"My immediate reaction was that this is an anomaly in the South Asian American community," Nair said Tuesday. "This isn't a rampant problem within South Asian communities. What is a problem, I think, is domestic violence, and that cuts across all communities."


Nair said he believes a "significant human rights campaign" is needed to address such killings.

"It's not just a U.S. issue. I think it happens across the world, and I think people need to recognize domestic violence and any kind of violence related to women as a serious, serious issue," Nair said.

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