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Iraqi woman attacked in California home dies

By Marty Graham

EL CAJON, California (Reuters) - A mother from Iraq who was severely beaten in her southern California home and left with a threatening note nearby died on Saturday, and police are considering a hate crime as a possible motive in the murder investigation.

Shaima Alawadi, 32, was found unconscious in the dining room of her home in El Cajon, near San Diego, on Wednesday morning by her 17-year-old daughter, said El Cajon police spokesman Lieutenant Mark Coit.

She was taken to a local trauma center with grave injuries. Doctors took her off life support and she died on Saturday afternoon, Coit said.

During the initial stages of the investigation, Coit said a threatening note was discovered "very close to where the victims was found."

The victim's daughter and family friends told local news media that the note threatened Alawadi because she was Iraqi and called her death a hate crime -- a possibility that Coit said police were considering.

"We are looking at all aspects of this crime including that possibility," Coit told Reuters. "We want to stay open-minded so we make sure we don't miss anything." Alawadi's family told investigators that they had found a similar note earlier this month, but did not report it to authorities, Coit said. He did not detail the contents of the threatening note found near the dying woman. But a family friend, Sura Alzaidy, told the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper the note read: "Go back to your own country. You're a terrorist." Shahina Sial, the landlord of the rented home in El Cajon where Alawadi's family lived, said the family had only lived at the property for a few weeks, after moving back to San Diego County from Michigan.

Sial said Alawadi's husband works as a contractor for the U.S. military. Coit asked anyone with information regarding the investigation to contact the El Cajon Police Department.

(Writing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by David Bailey)

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