Branded victim with initial of his nickname
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office
On June 28, a Contra Costa County jury found defendant Aleem Niweigha guilty of three felony counts for torturing his victim by making her strip naked and repeatedly burning his victim with scalding hot water and metal objects he heated on their stove. The defendant also branded the letter “Z” onto her back and violently sexually assaulted her.
Niweigha now faces a sentence of 39 years to life in State Prison. The District Attorney’s Office wants to thank the jury for their work on this domestic violence case. The victim, Jane Doe, suffered immense emotional and physical harm at the hands of Niweigha.
Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Nichelle Holmes prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. The jury trial lasted ten days before the Honorable Charles Burch in Department 23 at the Martinez Superior Court. Sentencing for the defendant will occur on July 13.
“Jane Doe displayed tremendous courage by coming forward and confronting her abuser when she took the stand and testified against him. She disclosed extreme physical and psychological torture the hands of the defendant that lasted for years. During this process, we watched Jane Doe transform from a victim to a survivor,” said DDA Holmes. Holmes is a prosecutor in the Community Violence Reduction Unit. She also served as a prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Unit for four years and was the first prosecutor to be co-located at the Richmond Family Justice Center.
In the spring of 2015, a friend of Jane Doe’s called Children and Family Services’ emergency hotline to report concerns about the wellbeing of Jane Doe and her children. In an investigation that also included the Richmond Police Department, significant burns were discovered on Jane Doe’s face, neck and arms. Officials later discovered that Jane Doe had burn marks covering most of her body and a large initial “Z” branded onto her back.
Jane Doe later disclosed that while they lived together, Niweigha repeatedly used boiling hot water mixed with peanut butter and oil to burn her. Before he threw the boiling water on Jane Doe, Niweigha would order Jane Doe to take off her clothes and remain naked while she was burned. Niweigha mixed the hot scalding water with these ingredients to ensure they stuck on Jane Doe’s body. Jane Doe suffered immense burns from her face down to her knees.
In addition, Niweigha used a metal pipe that was heated on the stove to burn the initial “Z” on Jane Doe’s back against her will while she was restrained on his lap. Niweigha’s nickname was “Zeem.” He also burned her with a heated metal screw attached to a stick. On Mother’s Day, Niweigha committed a violent sexual assault against Jane Doe, which resulted in her hospitalization for two days.
Jane Doe was able to obtain services and support from the Family Justice Center. All victims of interpersonal violence (domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, elder/dependent adult abuse and child abuse) can get help by visiting the Family Justice Centers in Richmond (256 24th St.) or Concord (2151 Salvio St., Ste. 201). DA Holmes believes that it was with this support that Jane Doe was finally able to disclose the full magnitude of the abuse she suffered to Richmond Police Detectives co-located there and break free from the cycle of domestic abuse. Law enforcement officials, Contra Costa County Children and Family Services Division and the District Attorney’s Office were then able to make a case against Niweigha and hold him accountable for these crimes. The District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Center continues to provide services to Jane Doe and her children.
If you or someone you know has been affected by interpersonal violence – get help by reporting the abuse to police, by calling the STAND! for Families Free of Violence 24-hour toll free crisis line at 1-888-215-5555 or visiting the Family Justice Centers in Richmond (256 24th St.) or Concord (2151 Salvio St., Ste. 201). In an emergency, always call 911.
The complete list of charges and enhancements against the defendant are as follows:
- Count 1, Torture
- Count 2, Aggravated Mayhem
- Count 3, Sexual Penetration by Foreign Object
- Enhancement 1, Special Allegation-Great Bodily Injury
- Enhancement 2, Special Allegation-Aggravated Circumstances
Case information: People v. Aleem Niweigha, Docket Number 05-160618-5.