Foundation fund

Hamid Houbbadi sentenced to life in prison plus 12 years for the murder of his ex-wife

CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Hamid Houbbadi was sentenced to life plus 12 years in prison on Friday for the 2018 murder of his estranged wife, Leila Chanane, at the couple’s home in Bellamy Lane.

The 43-year-old was convicted of first degree murder, first degree murder in the commission of a felony and most importantly aggravated burglary by a Montgomery County jury in January.

love gone wrong

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Houbbadi decided to give an unsworn statement to the court, in which he explained his version of the events that led to his wife’s death.

Houbbadi, who used an interpreter throughout his trial and at sentencing, made his comments in English.

“I just want to say I’m sorry (for) what I did, and no one deserves to be hurt or killed, and I just wanted to tell you my story because I didn’t get a chance to tell my story to the jury,” Houbbadi said.

He said he met Chanane in 2014 in Morocco, and they started dating. After a month, Houbbadi said he had returned to the United States, and he requested that she also return with a visa. She came to the United States the following year.

Leila Chanane. (Contributed, Robert Nash)

They married in September 2015 and he applied for a two-year green card for Chanane, which he says was approved. They moved to Clarksville and bought a house in May 2018.

In August 2018, Houbbadi said he and his wife took a week-long vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida. Upon their return, they found a notification in the mail stating that Chanane had not received her permanent green card, but had instead been given a six-month extension.

“She should wait. … She thought I had sabotaged her diary, I told her I hadn’t done anything. It’s a federal crime if I do something to his immigration, I didn’t do anything,” Houbbadi explained.

He said Chanane started arguing with him about it, so he went to another room in their house to sleep.

“The next day I went to Home Depot and found a padlock, and I moved out. She lived in the master bedroom and I lived in the other room,” Houbbadi said, adding that from at that time, they no longer spoke to each other and communicated only by text message.

Hamid Houbbadi. (MCSO, contributed)

As of 2018, Houbbadi was working in Nashville. A day after returning from work, Houbbadi said he discovered his locked room had been broken into. He accused Chanane of the burglary, adding that she also broke into his safe and stole $11,750.

“I called the police, the police came… I have the report here that says ‘forced entry’ in the door, the room,” Houbbadi continued, holding up a pile of papers on the podium.

The next day, Houbbadi said he had received the ex parte protection order and had 15 minutes to gather his things and leave the house. He went and stayed with a friend in Franklin.

On October 1, 2018, Houbbadi said he went to hire a lawyer for their divorce and for the protective order hearing. He brought with him the friend he had stayed with in Franklin.

While talking to the lawyer, Houbbadi said the lawyer mentioned that he knew Chanane, so he brought in another lawyer from the firm to work on his case.

The ex parte hearing was scheduled for Oct. 9, but Houbbadi said it was pushed back to Nov. 13 because the judge wasn’t there and the interpreter’s schedule didn’t line up.

‘I lost it’

On Oct. 19, Houbbadi said he received a text from the Walmart pharmacy on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard alerting him that his automatic prescription refill would be ready soon. He drove from Nashville to Clarksville.

Upon arrival, Houbbadi said the pharmacy told him it would take another 15 minutes before his prescription was ready.

“That’s when I precede to go home to get my money. I was going and I went to get my car first, I said, “No, if someone calls the police because I’m not allowed to go, I’m going to grab Uber”, said Houbbadi.

He said when he got home he found a magazine that had the lawyer’s name and phone number on it – the same one that said he knew Chanane.

“That’s why I decided to wait for my wife to tell him about it because I lost him,” a choked Houbbadi said.

He said he had filed a complaint with the state legal counsel about the attorney, adding that he did not know what the attorney’s relationship was to his wife.

“I wish I never went home…I never even got a speeding ticket…I never got anything,” Houbbadi added tearfully.

Devil in the details

District Attorney General Robert Nash said that although Houbbadi’s statement was not sworn, it partially explained the motive for his actions.

“He thinks she stole, and that explains why her purse is in the bathroom searched while her lunch box was outside and she was outside,” Nash said.

He said Houbbadi’s explanation also did not explain why the electricity went out 15 minutes after he arrived at his home.

“The devil is always in the details of these cases, Judge,” Nash continued.

Judge Robert Bateman then asked Nash to recount the number of stab wounds Chanane had suffered, nine in total: two in the front of his torso and seven in his back.

Charles Bloodworth, who served as Houbbadi’s defense attorney during the hearing, said the events leading up to Chanane’s murder were frustrating for Houbbadi.

He added that whatever happened before the couple received the notification from immigration about Chanane’s green card did not correlate to a troubled marriage.

“It’s not something you do with someone you’re going to kill,” Bloodworth said of their vacation.

Judge Bateman then announced that Houbbadi’s sentence would be life in prison for the two first-degree murder charges, followed by an additional 12 years for the particularly aggravated burglary charge.