Turkey Suspect: Murdered NY Tourist Wouldn't Kiss Me
Ziya Tasali describes encounter with Sarai Sierra
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2013 7:28 AM CDT
In this image from files provided by the family, Sarai Sierra is shown in an undated family photo, in New York.   (AP Photo/Family Photo, File)

(Newser) – The Turkish man accused of murdering New York tourist Sarai Sierra in January says it all started with an attempted kiss, the New York Times reports. On Jan. 21, as Sierra was walking near the Old City walls, Ziya Tasali tried to kiss her, he told prosecutors yesterday. "She resisted me, and a struggle broke out between the two of us," he said. She hit him with her cellphone and bloodied his nose; he pushed her to the ground, and she hit him with a rock. "I got very angry and hit her back twice with a stone I grabbed off of the floor," he said. She stopped moving.

The 46-year-old itinerant paper collector was formally charged with Sierra's murder yesterday and faces a possible life sentence if convicted. He says he went back to the scene the day after Sierra died, covering her with blankets and throwing her cellphone and iPad into the sea. He was just a few yards away when her body was found Feb. 2. He didn't realize she was foreign until he saw reports about the killing, at which point he fled to Syria and was eventually nabbed at the border. (He previously said he had been sniffing glue before the murder.)

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
Mar 19, 2013 9:17 PM CDT
So, when are the police and NY prosecutors who smeared her reputation with innuendo, going to come forward and apologize to the family and simply say "Sorry... we were wrong?" Remember the speculation that she was a drug mule?
Mar 19, 2013 10:22 AM CDT
Something is still very suspicious about this whole affair. Was he or was he not sniffing glue? Do women normally kiss in Turkey when approached? Why would someone send their wife and mother of their kids alone to Turkey for a few weeks to do photography? The guy they apprehended seems very convenient. Finally, if he was sniffing glue, what kind of model was he building?
Mar 19, 2013 8:23 AM CDT
She hit the guy with her cell phone ? Well who was she talking to ? The drug dealer she was supposed to meet ? Walking through an alley alone at night in the poorest area of the city. Guy probably thought she was a prostitute.