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

(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.)

In this image from files provided by the family, Sarai Sierra is shown in an undated family photo, in New York.
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)
Police officers escort  a Turkish man identified only as Ziya T., suspected of killing Sarai Sierra, outside a security office in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, March 18, 2013.
Police officers escort a Turkish man identified only as Ziya T., suspected of killing Sarai Sierra, outside a security office in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, March 18, 2013.   (AP Photo)
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