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  • FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2013 file photo, Iftekhar Murtaza listens during a hearing in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif. Murtaza, a murder suspect, has been admonished by a California judge for speaking out during the testimony of a witness about a 2007 attack she survived at her home during his trial. The incident occurred as Leela Dhanak testified in Murtaza’s trial on charges of attacking her and killing her husband and elder daughter. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Mackenzie Reiss,File) MAGS OUT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 7:39 pm

Man takes stand in trial for attack on ex's family

By AMY TAXINAssociated Press

A Southern California man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend's father and sister, slashing her mother's throat and burning their home says he was high on drugs when he talked about wanting the family dead.

But Iftekhar Murtaza (if-TECK'-are muhr-TAH'-zuh) says he never actually planned to kill.

Murtaza testified Tuesday at his Orange County trial.

Prosecutors say Murtaza carried out the 2007 attack in a plot to reunite with Shayona Dhanak (shy-OWN'-uh DAH'-nock). They say Murtaza believed her Hindu parents had forced their breakup because he's Muslim.

Murtaza says he was angry after Dhanak announced her parents had threatened to cut her off financially unless they broke up. He says he took Ecstasy and during an online chat said he wished her parents were dead.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A Southern California man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend's father and sister and slashing her mother's throat has taken the stand to testify on his own behalf.

Iftekhar Murtaza (if-TECK-are muhr-TAH-zuh) of Orange County was sworn in Tuesday at his trial on two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Prosecutors say Murtaza carried out the fiery attack six years ago in an ill-conceived plot to reunite with his girlfriend Shayona Dhanak (shy-OWN-uh DAH'-nock). They say she blamed their breakup on differences between her Hindu relatives and his Muslim faith.

The mother, Leela Dhanak, testified earlier that she came home late from work in May 2007, fell unconscious and woke up from a coma about three weeks later. She says she then learned that her home had been burned and her husband and other daughter killed.